A Guide to Native Bees of Australia

September 2018
More details
  • Publisher
    CSIRO Publishing
  • Published
    10th September 2018
  • ISBN 9781486304066
  • Language English
  • Pages 280 pp.
  • Size 5.5" x 8.25"
  • Images 353 color photos

Bees are often thought of as yellow and black striped insects that live in hives and produce honey. However, Australia’s abundant native bees are incredibly diverse in their appearance and habits. Some are yellow and black but others have blue stripes, are iridescent green or wasp-like. Some are social but most are solitary. Some do build nests with wax but others use silk or plant material, burrow in soil or use holes in wood and even gumnuts!

A Guide to Native Bees of Australia provides a detailed introduction to the estimated 2000 species of Australian bees. Illustrated with stunning photographs, it describes the form and function of bees, their life-cycle stages, nest architecture, sociality and relationships with plants. It also contains systematic accounts of the five families and 58 genera of Australian bees. Photomicrographs of morphological characters and identification keys allow identification of bees to genus level. Natural history enthusiasts, professional and amateur entomologists and beekeepers will find this an essential guide.


• Discover the extraordinary diversity of Australia’s native bees, their natural history and fascinating behaviors
• Includes identification keys and diagnoses for all five families and 58 genera of Australian bees
• Extensively illustrated with photographs of live bees from expert wildlife photographers as well as photomicrographs of diagnostic features for each family and genus.


Part I: Overview of bees and their biology

What is a bee?
Form and function
Origin and evolution of bees
Australian bee fauna
Importance of native bees
Bee life-cycle
Sexing bees
About males and mating
Bees’ glandular products
Size range
Colour patterns, mimicry and crypsis
Nests and nesting behaviour
Cuckoo bees
Flower visitation and feeding
Seasonality and flight times
Associated organisms
Conservation of bees
Historical account
Collecting and preserving bees
Encouraging native bees in the garden

Part II: Identification of bees
Identifying bees
Is it a bee?
Native bee or honeybee?
Regarding names: scientific versus common
Identification of Australian bees to family
Family Colletidae
Family Stenotritidae
Family Halictidae
Family Megachilidae
Family Apidae
Bees introduced to Australia

Further reading

Terry Houston

Terry Houston has studied Australian native bees for more than 50 years, both in the field and in state museum collections. He served as Curator of Insects at the Western Australian Museum in Perth for 34 years and, although retired, he continues his bee research there in an honorary capacity.