New Native Bee Visits ‘Bellis’

I first observed this small native bee working my coriander flowers last week. Clearly it is different from the nine other bees found at ‘Bellis’, helping to pollinate crops.

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Its identity has since been confirmed by Dr Ken Walker, Museum Victoria, to whom I am very grateful:

”Your native bee belongs to the Family Halictidae and in the genus Homalictus. I am positive of those two identifications whereas placing to species is difficult based on a photo alone; however, my tentative species ID would be Homalictus flindersi.

There are only two groups of native bee groups that have their primary pollen carrying areas on the underneath of the abdomen: (1) The entire family Megachilidae which are the leaf cutter or mortar bees. These are large and robust bees but never display any metallic markings; (2) The genus Homalictus. In your first image, you can clearly see the yellow mass on the under surface of the bee’s abdomen – called the gaster. The metallic thorax (called the mesoscutum) is also characteristic of many Homalictus species. The gastral and mesoscutal colours as well as what I can see of the sculpture on the mesoscutum is why I have punted for “flindersi”.

Hope that helps.

Dr Ken Walker
Senior Curator of Entomology
Museum Victoria, Melbourne.

Dr Walker has now published images I took of this bee on the PaDIL website, a federal website initiative of high quality images and information tools designed for Biosecurity and Biodiversity.

This bee now brings the ‘Bellis’ checklist of visiting and resident animals to 253 species:

‘Bellis’ bee checklist:
* Halictid bee, Homalictus flindersi, first observed and photographed on coriander flowers, 10.8.11;
* Leafcutter Bee, Megachile inermis; observed April – May feeding on pigeon pea nectar and identified by CSIRO entomologist, and native bee keeper, Tim Heard, 3.5.08;
* Chalicodoma bee; also feeding on pigeon pea and identified by Tim Heard, 3.5.08;
* Carpenter bee, Xylocopa aruana;
* Blue-banded bee, Amegilla cingulata
* Stingless bee, Trigona carbonaria – tiny, black, lives in colonies (often in small hollows of trees);
* Leafcutter bee, Megachile sp., found on washing line;
* Teddy bear bee, Amegilla cingulata – found pollinating Austromyrtus dulcis 30.11.07;
* Neon cuckoo bee, Thyreus nitidulus; Australia-wide – shiny black and turquoise- see images. Noticed visiting Pigeon pea flowers April 2008;
*European honeybee, Apis mellifera, European honeybee;

Jerry Coleby-Williams
16th August 2011