The blue banded bee is a solitary bee and native to Australia. The bee has a furry golden thorax and striking blue or white stripes on a black abdomen, and they grow to 11-12mm in size. They also have huge eyes and a long tongue. They look really cute in my way of thinking. The blue banded bee is a solitary bee but females may nest together in same location. The male has 5 stripes and the female has 4. Most of the time we see only females in our garden and their stripes look more white than blue. But just recently I saw a male and the blue was really striking. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing and was delighted when it stayed still long enough for me to be able to get reasonably close and photograph it.
The bee performs buzz pollination, by shaking the flower to release the pollin before collecting it. And there are some plants, e.g. tomato plants, that need to have this form of pollination carried out. The blue banded bee is one of three native bees in Australia, that carry out this kind of pollination method.
They are such a beautiful bee, don’t you think? If you’ve read the About section of my site you’ll know that the blue banded bee was what got me into garden and nature photography back in the late 2000’s after first noticing one in a salvia in the back garden of our then new home here in Selby, Victoria (in the Dandenong Ranges). I first heard and then saw the bee and spent days trying to get a shot of it so I could identify it. I was amazed to learn about these beautiful bees about which I had heard nothing previously. Now my goal is to get really good shots and this most recent shot (above) I’m very happy with, just taken this week in our back yard but on a different salvia on the side fence. I hadn’t noticed how furry they are. And excitedly, the blue on this bee is much more vibrant, not pale at all, quite brilliant in the sunlight and once I examined the photo, discovered I had a male, not female as in many of my previous photos.
It is said these bees favour blue and purple flowers but not sure that has been proven as yet. But it is quite common to see them amongst these but I also see them with the white gaura, pink comfrey and occasionally in our roses too. But the salvia seems to be a main attractor, along with a flower in our pond near the house.