Thousands of rare, fluffy bees are emerging from burrows in the outback

What's fluffy, has wings, and only lives in hard-baked clay of the Western Australian outback?

The Dawson's burrowing bee, or Amegilla dawsoni.

Thousands of the winged insects have begun to emerge from their burrows on Hamelin Station Reserve, as part of an annual spring breeding event.

READ MORE: Scientists create daddy 'short' legs spiders

The bees begin to emerge from their burrows over a few weeks every spring.

The remote 202,644-hectare property, located about 670km north of Perth, is run by conservation group Bush Heritage Australia.

Reserve managers, Michelle and Ken Judd, along with volunteers, have photographed the bees as they began to emerge.

The Dawson's burrowing bee is typically harmless but females may sting if handled.

Ms Judd told the population is looking "healthy" after a year of above-average rainfall spurred the growth of the bees' two favourite flowers: the poverty bush and rough bluebell.

It's estimated 5000 burrows are on Hamelin Station Reserve.

"The bees normally come out of their holes at this time of the year but we're seeing a lot more than usual this year," Ms Judd said.

"That could be a reflection of the landscape recovering.

"They're not something that you see every day, and this population is particularly healthy.

"It's great that they're in a protected zone where they can continue to develop and not be impacted by disturbances."

The bees only emerge over a few weeks in Spring, they will mate, find food, and then re-burrow into the ground to lay eggs.

Dawson's burrowing bees are one of Australia's largest native bee species, measuring about 20mm long.

"They're certainly one of the more photogenic ones, too," Ms Judd said.

"They're very placid, very noisy and very social, but they act as individuals rather than creating a hive".

It's estimated 5000 burrows are on Hamelin Station Reserve.

For most of the year, the bees are dormant larvae underground and eat their way up to the surface to breed.

The Western Australia Museum said adults typically occur during the months of July to September.

Once the females have been fertilised, they burrow back into the soil to create new nests, which they line with food and come complete with turrets about 20mm high.

"When you locate a nesting colony, you'll see these tiny little mud towers all across the landscape," Ms Judd said.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *