Pollinator heroes of Central Victoria: Elegant Hairy-Cellophane Bee
Posted on 23 November, 2023 by Hadley Cole
With spring upon us, now is the perfect time to take a closer look at the smaller pollinator heroes of our region! There is plenty to see and hear across all habitats across central Victoria if you stop and pay attention to the little things. These are the heroes of the bush, grasslands, our gardens and waterways.
The Buzz project: promoting pollinators of central Victoria, is a Connecting Country project funded by the North Central Catchment Management Authority (NCCMA) through the 2022 Victorian Landcare grants, that aims to celebrate and expand community knowledge on the smaller heroes of our local ecosystems, the insect pollinators. As part of this project, we will explore the lives of some of our most loved native pollinators from across the local region through a series of blogposts throughout November.
Dr Mark Hall, local entomologist, has kindly shared his extensive knowledge on some of the local pollinator heroes that are so important to the health of our ecosystems.
Elegant Hairy-Cellophane Bee (Trichocolletes venustus)
Words by Dr. Mark Hall
Perhaps the most striking thing about this larger bee is the vivid gold bands on its abdomen that glint in the sunlight as it flies between Hardenbergia flowers. Along with the golden orange hairs across the rest of its body and head, this is a far more attractive bee than the European Honeybee, which it may be mistaken for. And this species is native! It also sounds quite different once you learn to recognise its buzz. That hairy body is perfect for carrying the pollen of many native pea species, such as Daviesia ulicifolia and Gompholobium huegelii, and the orchid Diuris maculata among others.
The Elegant Hairy-Cellophane Bee is one of 40 species of Trichocolletes, an endemic bee genus, occurring nowhere else except the southeast of Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia. It is active from July to January, so can be one of the earlier bees seen visiting flowers in early spring. It nests in the ground, often in groups but with each bee having a separate nest entrance and looking after its own eggs. Perhaps there is simply safety in numbers, or good real estate is hard to come by? And as its name suggests, it produces a cellophane-like substance which it uses to seal its nest to protect its precious cargo from pests and parasites.
Why not slow down and take a look in your local bushland or garden and see what pollinator heroes you can find?