ON THE ROAD — The Sandhill Native Fuchsia (Eremophila wilsonii) extends a purple “tongue” to advertise the presence of nectar and one of Australia’s many species of large solitary bees takes up the offer. Found at the Arid Lands Botanic Gardens at Port Augusta.
The stingless native bee called Bobbidj inwestern Arnhem Land indigenous taxonomy and Austroplebeia symeii in Linnean taxonomy shuts the entrance to its nest as evening falls. Worker bees pull the toffee like cerumen inward until they have blocked the entrance. Bininj people call the entrance the “nose” (kebno) of the nest. In the morning the bees will open up the entrance at the start of their working day. Bobbidj is the only one of six bee types named in the Kundedjnyenghmi dialect of Bininj Kunwok which close their nest entrance at night. The tiny bees, only a few millimetres in length, produce a beautiful tasting honey. Bininj use the wax from native bees for a variety of purposes in traditional tool making but the wax from Bobbidj is inferior and almost useless. It crumbles rather than being easy to mould and hold a shape.
The Fish-Tail Palm (Caryotis mitis) is a native of SE Asia and India and I photographed these cascades of inflorescence in Gunung Mulu National Park in Sarawak. The small flowers attract huge numbers of native stingless bees. In the Northern Territory I think the plant has the potential to become a weed in the Western Arnhem Plateau where it would love the moist ravines.