JAN 08, 2019 8:09 PM PST

This Bee Nests in Small Cavities in Australia's Banksia Trees

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

The world is home to all kinds of bees, some better-known than others, but all bee species play an essential role in the environment. A lesser-known species dubbed Euryglossina perpusilla can be found throughout Western Australia, and researchers are doing all in their power to improve their understanding of it.

E. perpusilla is just one of 404 known members of the bee sub-family Euryglossinae, all of which are endemic to Australia. One small detail about E. perpusilla that has gone overlooked all these years is its nesting habits.

Image Credit: Kit Prendergast

To learn more about E. perpusilla’s cryptic nesting habits, Curtin University researcher Kit Prendergast performed an experiment of her own in Australia’s spacious Star Swamp Reserve and later published her findings in the Journal of Melittology

"Most native bee sub-families are known to nest in just one type of substrate, being wood nesters, or ground nesters. However, the sub-family Euryglossinae exhibits a range of sociality in nesting habitats and nest construction," Ms. Prendergast explained.

"They appear to use a range of materials to create their nests in, including the inside of stems, softwood, pre-existing cavities, and soil."

Related: Anthropogenic activity reduces bee diversity, a study confirms

Citing the study, E. perpusilla seems to prefer pre-formed cavities found in local Banksia trees for nesting places over anything else. The results were unanimous after Ms. Prendergast painstakingly crafted cardboard-lined trap nests in wooden blocks and observed as E. perpusilla avoided them like the plague.

The holes Ms. Prendergast drilled into the trap nest-centric wooden blocks varied in size – some 4mm, some 7mm, and some 10mm in diameter. Comparatively, the naturally-occurring cavities found in local Banksia tree branches averaged between 1.5mm and 3mm in diameter.

While E. perpusilla didn’t take much interest in Ms. Prendergast’s trap nests, many other local bees, such as those from the Megachilidae family, did. Equally captivating was the discovery that a small Megachile species managed to share the Banksia cavities with E. perpusilla without quarrel.

The world is changing, much to the consequence of human behavior. With bee populations undergoing significant declines on a global scale, it’s critical that we understand their nesting behaviors such that conservationists can deploy proper techniques to help ensure their survival.

"There is an urgent need to increase our knowledge of Australian native bees given the rapid transformation of natural habitats by urbanization and reports of bee declines across the globe," Ms. Prendergast continued.

"With much of the original Banksia woodland destroyed in the southwest Australian biodiversity hotspot, remnant bushland habitats such as Star Swamp Reserve may be fundamental to ensuring endemic species such as these native bees persist."

Related: Study investigates why people like bees and hate wasps

Future studies could shed light on the mysteries of nesting behaviors in other endemic bee species, but Ms. Prendergast’s research is a great start.

Source: Curtin University, Journal of Melittology

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
NOV 10, 2021
Plants & Animals
Meet Leti, a fossilized Homo naledi child skeleton
NOV 10, 2021
Meet Leti, a fossilized Homo naledi child skeleton
A new fossil attributed to the species Homo naledi has been discovered.
NOV 15, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
Rockfish Hold Some of the Genetic Secrets to Longevity
NOV 15, 2021
Rockfish Hold Some of the Genetic Secrets to Longevity
The lifespans of vertebrates can vary widely; some live to be about five weeks while others can reach 400 years. As most ...
NOV 19, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Space Taco: Nasa grows Hatch Green Chiles in space
NOV 19, 2021
Space Taco: Nasa grows Hatch Green Chiles in space
Now, incredibly, the famous pepper has been grown aboard the International Space Station!!!
DEC 15, 2021
Plants & Animals
A New Way to Visualize the Tree of Life, and Its Vulnerabilities
DEC 15, 2021
A New Way to Visualize the Tree of Life, and Its Vulnerabilities
The history of life on earth can be visualized as a branched tree. Some of those branches have spawned more, while other ...
JAN 06, 2022
Earth & The Environment
Eating Less Meat Just Got Much Easier!
JAN 06, 2022
Eating Less Meat Just Got Much Easier!
We already know that eating less meat and animal products is better for the environment and our health, and it’s a ...
JAN 16, 2022
Earth & The Environment
Climate Change Decimating Olive Oil Yields
JAN 16, 2022
Climate Change Decimating Olive Oil Yields
Olives are an important food crop across the Mediterranean. Olives are most important for their production of olive oil, ...
Loading Comments...