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our native bees

Native bees come in three sizes. Small, very small and extremely small.

Last summer I was with my friend Gretchen at their community garden in North East Valley, Dunedin. Little black native bees were everywhere! I followed them as the sucked on flax petals (they were after nectar not pollen), and clustered around cabbage tree flowers.

Flighty and fly very fast, seldom settling on one flower for long.

As I observed our short-tongued native bees are generally better at pollinating native flowers, while the introduced honeybees and bumblebees were busy in other parts of the garden, pollinating the crop flowers.

The native bee is an important pollinator in Flight of Pollen, picking up and dropping off a load of three. In the game loads range from one (hoverfly) to eight (bat).

Aotearoa / New Zealand has 28 species of native bees. Most native bees are solitary. At the end of summer they dig holes in the ground, and there they lay a single egg in each cell. These eggs hatch in spring and feed on the nectar and pollen left for them, before emerging.

Quotes from Jay Iwasaki, a PhD student in the Departments of Botany and Zoology at the University of Otago.
In ‘New Zealand’s Smallest Bees’, Our Changing World, by Alison Ballance

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