Trigona carbonaria  Click to enlarge image
Stingless Bee, Trigona carbonaria, also known as the Sugarbag Bee Image: Andrew Donnelly
© Australian Museum

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    carbonaria
    Genus
    Tetragonula
    Subfamily
    Apinae
    Family
    Apidae
    Super Family
    Apoidea
    Suborder
    Apocrita
    Order
    Hymenoptera
    Class
    Insecta
    Subphylum
    Uniramia
    Phylum
    Arthopoda
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    4-5 mm

The Stingless Bee is the only truly social bee found in the Sydney area.

Identification

Tetragonula are small, dark bees which form colonies in tree hollows and other cavities. They are one of the few species of native bees that form large social nests.

Habitat

The Stingless Bee lives in urban and rural areas, forests and woodlands, and heath.

Distribution

The Stingless Bee is found in coastal areas from Queensland to southern New South Wales.

Feeding and diet

The Stingless Bee feeds on pollen and nectar.

Other behaviours and adaptations

The Stingless Bee's nest is usually made in the trunks of large trees and can contain several thousand bees. Constructed from a waxy substance secreted by workers and resin collected from trees, the nest has a spiral-shaped honeycomb centre.

Life history cycle

The Stingless Bee stores pollen and nectar in pot-like structures near the outer edge of the nest. The queen lays a single egg into brood cells stocked with honey and pollen, and a worker bee quickly seals the cell. Hive members collect nectar and pollen from a number of different flowers. They can lead each other to good food sources using a chemical scent trail.

Economic impacts

Tetragonula produce a thin honey, which can be used as bush tucker. The cultivation of Tetragonula in artificial nests is being developed for more commercial uses.

Danger to humans

Tetragonula species are stingless and so are harmless to humans.