A vital service

Native Australian bees are a crucial part of Australia’s ecosystems. They pollinate native plants, some of which can’t be pollinated by introduced species. And studies from the CSIRO and the Australian Native Bee Research Centre suggest that native bees are even better pollinators than their introduced cousins.

What do native bees like?

Researchers wanted to know where most native bees could be found, and the most important habitat for them in cities. They examined bee communities in three types of green spaces in urban areas:

  • golf courses

  • public parks

  • front gardens and streetscapes in residential neighbourhoods.

The most native bees, and the greatest variety of bee species were found in public parks. European honeybees dominated residential neighbourhoods.

Public parks and the ‘out of play’ areas of some golf courses had fewer introduced plant species compared to residential areas and the tended parts of golf courses. They were also less intensively managed. This combination of more native plants and less management provides more habitat for native bees.

Give them what they want

The results show the importance that urban areas can play in contributing to conservation. In this case, urban areas need to be included in pollinator conservation initiatives. Increasing the amount and types of native plant species in all green spaces in urban areas – including home gardens – would help boost bee numbers.

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