When my husband and I first saw a blue banded bee in our garden, we took 3000 (mostly blurry – built like a DC plane but moves like lightening) photos. Just like proud parents. It was 2018 and I’d only just found about blue banded bees. And here was one, in our garden — after eight years living on our wee property! Once you know what to look for, you suddenly see what was there all along.
To be honest, it was in a rather unloved part of the garden that the bee appeared – an overgrown but flower-filled red geranium surrounded by rough grass and dandelions. The messy parts, where insects like to hang out.
We later discovered that ‘our bee’ was a she (4 blue bands, boys have 5) and had her burrow beneath a loose brick on soft sand. A truly neglected area and perfect for a solitary home! (the boys prefer to roost on grasses, so we’ve planted more of those now).
This past summer, she pollinated our tomatoes (also like blueberries, chillies and capsicum) with her buzz pollination, a unique method that vibrates the flowers to release pollen. We had a great crop. Native plant options are Hibbertia, Dianella, Stylidium and Plectranthus species.
Our garden is about 200sqm, so it’s not big. But when you’re an insect, small to us is a world to them. So it’s all relative and no barrier to having visitors. Because where there are insects, there are frogs, lizards and birds.
I look forward to the next spring and summer of hearing that loud buzz and spotting the blue bum!
[Goldie Wattle is the pseudonym of a Gardens for Wildlife volunteer. She shares her garden evolution on the facebook page, The Garden of Earthly Delights.]