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Sunday
Dec222013

Ever seen a bee with red eyes?

I don't think many people are familiar with this stunning native bee, that does indeed have captivating red eyes! Please allow me to introduce the Golden-Browed Resin Bee (Megachile aurifrons if you'd like to get scientific).

Image: Golden-Browed Resin Bee at our bee hotel

She's another of the current frequenters of our bee hotels. The informative Native Bees of the Sydney Region field guide (the only field guide to native bees in Australia; so don't be put off that our place isn't in the Sydney region) advises that M. aurifrons females tend to like these drilled holes in hardwood as nesting places. They also like to use existing cavities, such as fence posts, mortar and even abandoned mud-wasp cells.

She seemed to spend quite a bit of time entering and leaving various holes in the bee hotel before deciding which one to build a nest in. Again, much of the action was out of my sight, inside the hole. But when she was getting toward sealing the nest, I managed to get some shots of her. In the video below you can see that she's using chewed leaves as her building material. She carries them to the nest in her mandibles (mouth parts) and then manipulates it into place. If you look closely, you can see this in the clip. Her mandibles are quite large.

I noted that she would work for some minutes, then fly away, and return a few minutes later with another load of building material. I figured that must mean her source must be fairly close. Sure enough, I spotted her on a wattle (Acacia boormanii?) collecting the leaves. It's only about five metres away from her nest.  

Video: A close look at nest building by a native bee 

I've subsequently watched this bee build additional nests in this bee hotel. And there's another one (or more?) nesting in another bee hotel. I've also seen them checking out other holes, including in salvaged timber, around our wooden outdoor setting on the verandah and the mortar of our house. They all seem to be using the same wattle for their building material, with some using sawdust for the outer layer of the nest.

Again, Ken Walker confirmed the identity of this bee when I shared the video on BowerBird. Thanks Ken, and to others who've made comments about the clip. I am always excited about the bees, as you know, but this one is a super stunner!

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