solitary bee (Osmia rufa)

These bees are known as masonry or mortar bees because they like to nest in crevices or holes in masonry. They prefer to stay near walls that receive sunshine for much of the day.

Mortar bees use naturally occurring holes in bricks or mortar joints (especially mortar with a high lime or sand content).

Key Facts

  • Mortar bees are harmless; they are not aggressive and will not attack.
  • They include the wool-carder bee, the mining bee, the hairy-footed flower-bee, the leafcutter bee and the red mason bee.

Honey bees are the species kept by Bee Keepers.

If you have a problem with honey bees, contact a local Bee Keeper or Environmental Health Department as they will be able to arrange for the swarm to be relocated.

Key Facts

  • They live in hollow trees or in chimneys, wall cavities or roof spaces.
  • They are similar in size to wasps but are furrier and mostly black in colour.
  • Honey bees convert nectar into honey and beeswax.
  • A honey bee swarm will arrive in flight and cluster on a tree branch.
  • A colony size can often be greater than 30,000 individual honey bees.
  • Population under threat from varroa mite.

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  • 3/4 - 1 inch long. 
  • Female faces are black, male faces are yellow. 
  • Bright yellow, orange or white hairs on the thorax. 
  • No hair on abdomen. 
  • Females have a stinger, males do not.


  • Tunnel into wood to lay eggs. 
  • Life cycle from egg – larva – pupa - adult takes approximately seven weeks. 
  • Larva is large and noisy. 
  • New adults emerge from the nest late August.


  • Sting - Only sting if provoked. 
  • Visibility - Late-spring to mid-October. 
  • Nesting - Bare, untreated softwoods are preferred, including redwood, cedar, cypress and pine. Old nests are used year after year. 
  • Location – Nests can be found in eaves, window trims, facia boards, siding, decks and outdoor furniture. 
  • Feeding - flowers that contain pollen, eg Bradfords, Daffodils, Pansies. Pollen stored in abandoned tunnels for overwintering.

honey bee (Apis Mellifera)

carpenter bee (Xylocopa virginica)

Australia has over 1,500 species of native bee.  Bees collect pollen, from flowers, to feed their young. Wasps and flies do not do this, although they may be seen eating pollen, so identification is not always easy.

Ten of the species, the social native bees Trigona and Austroplebeia have no sting.

Of the remainder, which live solitary lives, none are aggressive, and most cannot actually use their sting on humans because they are too small to do so. Larger examples of Australian native bee are capable of stinging if handled or squashed.

The stings of most Australian native species of bee will cause relatively minor discomfort to most people -- "not as painful as those of a bull ant or paper wasp and last only a few minutes". However, they may sting more than once, and can cause an allergic reaction—increasing effect associated with repeated exposure to the antigen.

If faced with a swarm of bees or lots of bees in the same area never squash or kill a bee as they will emit a scent which will alert other bees to attack the source of danger which is you.

Bee sting

  • Remove the sting by sliding or scraping your fingernail across it, rather than pulling at it.
  • Wash the area and apply ice to reduce the swelling.
  • If the person has an allergy to bee stings, they can fall into a life-threatening state of anaphylactic shock.
  • The only treatment is an injection of adrenaline.
  • Immobilise the person, apply pressure to the bite and seek immediate medical help, call an Ambulance by dialling 000.

mortar bee (Amegilla sp.)


  • Often similar to the honey bee.


  • Colony size - small nests which are individually tended by a female. 
  • Preferred nest sites - often in soil, sometimes in soft cement and mortar between bricks. 
  • Nest construction - various materials. Usually a new nest each year.


  • Swarming - does not swarm. 
  • Overwintering - usually in the pupal stage within the nest. 
  • Food preferences - honey and pollen. 
  • Rarely stings.