Amegilla cingulata) is native to Australia, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, East Timor and Malaysia and measures 11-12mm in length. They typically live solitary lives within small burrows dug into the soil or crevices on rocks.
They’re great pollinators, using buzz pollination or sonication techniques that shake pollen off flower anthers with vibrational sound waves, such as coral gum (E. torquata), fuchsia gum (E. forrestiana), and E. leucoxylon ‘Euky Dwarf’ for pollination purposes.
The Blue Banded Bee (Amegilla cingulata) is an Australian native bee that features golden-thoraces with blue or white stripes on its black abdomen, as well as 11-12mm long bodies with no distinguishing features. After mating, female Blue Banded Bees create their nest in dirt crevices or crevices in rocks; males leave them alone to find food sources elsewhere in nature.
Buzz pollination requires bees to latch onto an anther and shake it vigorously – known as sonification – in order to dislodge pollen from it. This technique cannot be performed by Western honey bees which were introduced as pollinators species.
Switzer and her team are currently investigating the biomechanical, physiological, and behavioral aspects of buzz pollination in order to better understand its benefits for crops such as tomatoes and blueberries. Their work is vital as bee populations are rapidly declining due to pesticides, diseases, habitat loss and other stressors; by planting flowering plants that attract native bees gardeners can help their survival.
Nectar is a liquid secreted by flower-specific glands to attract pollinators. This nectar often contains sugars, amino acids and volatile compounds for flavor and scent; its consistency often has an unpleasant sweetness that sticks around for too long! Plus it’s filled with essential vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.
Some flowers store nectar deeper within their petals, providing sustenance for insects with longer tongues such as bees and butterflies. You may notice some blooming plants such as Buddleia, Verbena and Hebe that only provide abundant nectar at full bloom.
Wild flowers in an area can provide a reliable supply of nectar. Woods with mixed trees, shrubs and wildflowers as well as gardens managed without harmful chemicals tend to produce plenty of nectar for bees, while agricultural fields without harmful chemicals provide enough nectar for agricultural fields with nectar-rich agricultural and edible plants such as fruit trees, currants, gooseberries, strawberries tomatoes cucumber squash olives rape buckwheat sunflowers etc.
Pollen, the powdery substance that produces male gametes, is released by flowers to aid reproduction. Blue banded bees play an essential part in Australia’s agricultural industry by pollinating 30 percent of crops such as tomatoes, kiwi fruit and peppers as well as native plants and wild flowers.
Scientists have recently observed bees engaging in buzz pollination – an innovative technique used by bees to transfer pollen between plants. Buzz pollination occurs when bees vibrate their heads against flowers at 350 times per second, dislodging pollen that had been trapped within tiny capsules inside flowers and dispersing it into different regions of flowers. Some species of flowers require this form of pollination for optimal flower bloom.
Male and female blue-banded bees construct their nests independently, selecting sites in mortar, mud bricks or soft sandstone banks in sheltered locations. Female blue-banded bees then begin filling each cell with pollen and nectar before sealing it up with waterproof substances secreted by male bees.
Blue banded bees are non-colonizing bees that live alone, nesting in holes dug into soft soil or mud. A bee will line a cell with nectar and pollen before laying an egg; males instead choose to rest at night by clinging onto plant stems.
Gardeners who grow tomatoes find them invaluable, as bumble bees do not perform buzz pollination effectively. Instead, female bees use their heads to hit flowers’ anthers at 350 times per second – enough to make metal fans shudder!
Australian plants with fragrant flowers that attract Blue Banded Bees include eucalypts such as coral gum (Eucalyptus torquata) and fuchsia gum (E. forrestiana), bottlebrushes of all colors from Callistemon, tea-trees (Leptospermum), tea trees, native rosemary (Westringia), as well as Westringia’s mass of tiny blooms that attract these bees, as well as many kinds of Grevilleas from ground covers to trees!