Bees are under threat worldwide. As we urbanise our environments we remove bees’ natural habitat – we create flowerless landscapes when we substitute concrete and lawn for flowering trees and shrubs. And agricultural practices, such as monoculture, remove the variety of floral resources bees need for good health. Add to these the increasing use of pesticides in crop management and domestic landscapes, and the future for bees looks bleak.
Mention bees and people invariably think of honey bees. Humans have had an important relationship with honey bees for millennia, managing them for honey and pollination services. The social European honey bee Apis mellifera can be found in most parts of the world, and was introduced into Australia in 1822; however, this species is only one of 20 000 species of bees worldwide. Australia is home to almost 2000 species of native bees, and most of them are very important plant pollinators.