Green and Gold Nomia Bee Lipotriches (Austronomia) australica

    One of the first native bees that I ever photographed this green and gold nomia bee is one of those that really kicked off my passion for our native pollinators.

    Photo Credit: James Dorey

    Male Leafcutter Bee Megachile (Rhodomegachile) abdominale 

    Male leafcutter bees often have highly modified forelegs that are by and large designed for use during mating. Males will often rob their forelegs over the eyes of the female while mating; this is possibly used for species recognition. In this species, the forelegs are unusually long.

    Photo Credit: James Dorey

    Colletis Bee Palaeorhiza cnemidorhiza parallela

    Caught in Rollingstone, Queensland this amazing colletid stunned me with its flambouyant colouration – I was particularly excited to see this individual through my camera!

    Photo Credit: James Dorey

    Red Singer Bee Amegilla asaropoda rhodoscymna 

    A flash of red and a quick buzz was all I got when this red singer bee flew by. After much chasing and many failed swings of my net I had to wait to see this boy land before I could catch him.

    Photo Credit: James Dorey

    Female Leafcutter Bee Megachile hackeriapis aurifrons 

    Distributed across all of mainland Australia I’d recommend everyone to keep their eyes open for these beauties. A large black bee with a red face and red eyes, they are sometimes hard to miss.

    Photo Credit: James Dorey

    Male Reed Bee Exoneura  

    As the name suggests these reed bees often make their nests in reeds or hollow out small pithy branches, provisioning their young with pollen and nectar at the end of their little nest.

    Photo Credit: James Dorey

    Female Colletid Bee Callohesma flavopicta

    Callohesma bees are often tiny; this individual is only at 4 mm long. However, if you get the chance to spot one (often feeding on gum flowers) you will be greeted with a pleasant array of pale yellows, greens and oranges.

    Photo Credit: James Dorey

    Male Colletid Bee Leioproctus amabilis 

    Found in Barrington, Tasmania this big colletid was foraging beside the introduced honeybee and bumblebee in a bee-friendly yard. While direct conflict with introduced pollinators is rare it has been found that introduced pollinators compete with their native counterparts for resources.

    Photo Credit: James Dorey

    Female Leafcutter Bee Megachile lucidiventris 

    Leafcutter bees typically have large and powerful mandibles for cutting circles out of leaves – commonly out of the leaves of roses, native ginger and other plants. They then use these cuttings to build a nest for their young.

    Photo Credit: James Dorey

    Female Sweat Bee Lasioglossum australictus lithuscum 

    Bees often harbour mites. Unlike the mite Varroa destructor that attacks European honeybees many mites form mutual symbiotic relationships with bees. Mites eat nest fungus that might otherwise harm the bee’s young, while the bees transport the mites between their nests. This is one possible reason for why this sweat bee if carrying these large mites.

    Photo Credit: James Dorey

    Female Halictid Bee Homalictus urbanus 

    Homalictus bees are common across Australia. In shades of metallic green, blue, red and more these gems nest in the ground, often in reasonably sized aggregations.

    Photo Credit: James Dorey

    Female Sugarbag Bee Tetragonula 

    One of everyone’s favourite groups of bees – the stingless bees are often cultivated and kept in little hives for the occasional harvesting of honey or just the enjoyment of seeing these bees go about their daily tasks.

    Photo Credit: James Dorey

    Female Neon Cuckoo Bee Thyreus nitidulus

    Many bees sleep outside of a nest at night, meaning that they can be find like this – roosting by locking their mandibles on branches and waiting for the light and warmth of the following day to begin their work once again.

    Photo Credit: James Dorey

    Female Colletid Bee Leioproctus 

    I am often surprised by how little we know of our diverse and important native bees. This female Leioproctus is yet undescribed. There are over 1600 native bee species already described but the real number of species in Australia is thought to lie somewhere between 2000 and 3000 species.

    Photo Credit: James Dorey

    Male Golden-Green Carpenter Bee Xylocopa lestis aeratus 

    Big and fluffy, these male carpenter bees look quite different to their female counterparts, but certainly they are no less beautiful.

    Photo Credit: James Dorey

The Secret Life of Bees

By AG STAFF | June 20, 2017

With camera in hand, insect photographer James Dorey traveled the country capturing the diversity of our native bees up close.