Research finds first African carder bees to reach Western Australia

Image of African carder bee in flower.

(Curtin University) Research from Curtin University has recorded the first known appearance of the African carder bee in Western Australia and has highlighted the need to closely monitor the impacts of such introduced species on the ecosystem. “Unlike native Australian bees, which all are solitary nesters, the African carder bee nests communally, where masses of brood cells from multiple females are found in the one place.”

Bee shortage in Australia threatens crop pollination after back-to-back dry wet seasons

Image of beekeeper holding frame.

(ABC NEWS) Bee numbers in Australia’s Northern Territory are dwindling after back-to-back dry wet seasons, to the point that beekeepers cannot satisfy demand for honey and crucial pollination services. The lower rainfall caused many native Top End trees and plants to produce much less nectar, on which healthy bee populations depend.

Engineers brought together by Mars are now using technology to save Australia’s bees from devastating varroa mites

Image of inside detection device.

(ABC NEWS) Australia’s biosecurity regime is about to get a timely technological boost from an unlikely alliance. Some young tech-savvy aerospace engineers have joined forces with one of Australia’s largest dairy companies to create the Purple Hive Project, which is aimed at safeguarding Australia’s bee and honey industry from invasive and destructive pests like the varroa mite with cameras and artificial intelligence. Australia is the only inhabited continent still free of the varroa mite.

Strange, spiral bee combs look like fantastical crystal palaces. Now we know why.

Image of the spiral combs.

(Live Science) How did these Tetragonula bees become the Frank Lloyd Wrights of the insect world? Does each colony employ its own master architect, charged with guiding his comb’s construction — or does each worker bee merely follow an unconscious set of individually-encoded building rules? According to a new study, “These combs follow the same basic rules that cause crystals to grow up in a spiral pattern.”

Natural history of an Australian bee community, studied for ten years

Image of blue vane trap.

(Austral Entomology) “We surveyed bees using a blue vane trap during spring, summer and autumn from 2008 to 2017 at one location in Canberra, Australia. To the best of our knowledge, this is the longest near‐continuous record of bee activity in the southern hemisphere… Our findings relate only to our study site but are similar to findings from other long‐term studies conducted in the northern hemisphere, which collectively present a picture of high natural variability in bee communities that must be considered when interpreting findings of bee responses to anthropogenic disturbances.”

Fancy Aussie bees flew in from Asia

Image of Australian native bee.

(EurekAlert/Flinders University) Ancestors of a distinctive pollinating bee found across Australia probably originated in tropical Asian countries, islands in the south-west Pacific or greater Oceania region. Describing the likely dispersal corridor for the ancestral lineage of the bee genus Homalictus will help understand the social evolution of the vibrant halictine bees say researchers. Ecologists are hopeful that the diverse origins of native bees are giving them an edge in withstanding and adapting further to climate change.

Buried under colonial concrete, Botany Bay has even been robbed of its botany

Image of Xanthorrhoea plants.

(The Conversation) The HMS Endeavour’s week-long stay on the shores of Kamay in 1770 yielded so many botanical specimens unknown to western science, Captain James Cook called the area Botany Bay. Today, however, the site better reflects 20th-century European exploitation of the Australian landscape than it does early or pre-British Botany Bay. Yet not all is lost. “We studied pollen released from flowering plants and conifers, which can accumulate and preserve in sediment layers through time. Looking at this preserved pollen lets us develop a timeline of vegetation change over hundreds to thousands of years.”

Kangaroo Island beekeepers feed surviving bees, distribute bushfire funds

Image of bushfires.

(The Islander) The Kangaroo Island Beekeepers Group wants to track down all honey producers operating on the Island so that bushfire funds can be fairly distributed. “As a collective we need to decide how we can use this money to benefit the KI beekeeping community. However, we do not have a complete contact list for the Island’s beekeepers.”