Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Blue Banded Bee - Amegilla cingulata


I love them. They are so cute. I wonder if these could be related to my mystery bee.

Certainly is a possibility.

Amegilla cingulata, commonly known as the blue banded bee, is an Australian native bee. It belongs to the Anthophoridae family of insects.

Currently, there are several scientific organisations conducting thorough research on how the blue banded bee benefits agriculture through its distinctive "buzz pollination". These bees are very important for the production of food and contribute to at least 30% of crops in Australia.

A. cingulata has a very striking appearance. Unlike the honeybee, it has pale blue stripes on its abdomen instead of yellow. The male can be distinguished by the number of complete bands, having five as opposed to the females' four.

In size, A. cingulata can grow to 10–12 millimetres (0.39–0.47 in). Its appearance includes a golden brown head with bulging eyes that have multiple lenses. They have six sticky legs and a long tongue to help extract nectar from flowers. Scientists believe that male bees have brighter blue stripes to attract female bees.

Blue banded bees can sting but are not as aggressive as other bees. The males cling to plant stems during the night. Like the whole anthophoridae family, they are quick and agile. They are solitary creatures, whereas honeybees create hives.

A. cingulata builds a solitary nest, but often close to one another. It prefers soft sandstone to burrow in, and areas of this type of rock can become riddled with bee tunnels.

Banded bees also tend to nest in burrows, dried up river banks, old clay homes and in mortar between bricks. Cells at the end of tunnels contain an egg with a pollen/nectar mixture for emerging larvae.

The rest of the info is here.

This also provides some nice photos.

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