Reed Bee,  Hymenoptera Click to enlarge image
Reed Bee, Order: Hymenoptera Image: Bruce Hulbert
© Bruce Hulbert

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Genus
    Exoneura
    Subfamily
    Xylocopinae
    Family
    Apidae
    Super Family
    Apoidea
    Suborder
    Apocrita
    Order
    Hymenoptera
    Class
    Insecta
    Subphylum
    Uniramia
    Phylum
    Arthopoda
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    5 mm - 8 mm

Reed bees are one of the most commonly encountered bees in the Sydney area.

Habitat

Reed bees live in urban areas, forests and woodlands, and heath.

Distribution

Reed bees are found throughout Australia.

Other behaviours and adaptations

The reed bees' name comes from their habit of nesting in dried-out stems of a number of plants including the introduced weed Lantana. The entrance to these nests is often guarded by a female bee, using her abdomen or face to block the entrance. Some species show cooperative behaviour, sharing a nest and foraging or guard duties. Unusually, the nests are not divided into discreet chambers for larvae. In fact, in the most common species, larvae and pupae lie together in a pile.

Life history cycle

Nests are also used as hibernating chambers for adult reed bees which, unlike most Australian native bee species, survive the winter.