Young bees must bore their way out of their cells and find their way to freedom. In groundnests, the cells may occur singly, each with aseparate connection to the main shaft, but beesthat nest in hollow stems and borer holesconstruct series of cells, end to end along thegalleries.
Nest of a resin-using bee (
)constructed in an abandoned wood-boring beetlegallery in dead wood. Two brood cells constructed end to end are on the right and the plugged nest entrance is on the left.
Small carpenter bees
species) nest in hollow stems andborer holes but have forsaken the constructionof cells. Instead, small groups of adults sharethe tunnels with immature stages and feed thelarvae small meals periodically.
Eggs of a small carpenter bee (
sp.), left,and larvae of another kind (
sp.) in hollow stems. No cells are constructed by these bees.
Bees' worst enemies are parasitic insects(certain wasps, flies and beetles), mites andmoulds that develop in or on their immaturestages and food stores. Among the enemies are‘cuckoo bees’, females of which break into their host’s freshly completed brood cells to deposittheir eggs. The cuckoo bee larvae, uponhatching, destroy the host egg or young larvaand take over the food store. The white-spottedspecies of
, for example, develop innests of blue-banded bees (
A male cuckoo bee (
sp.) at rest. Males of many bees and wasps spend the night in this way,gripping stems or leaves with their jaws alone.
Australian bees occupy most terrestrialhabitats including the arid inland. Providingthere are flowers, bee activity may be observedthroughout the year, although, in southern Australia, activity peaks in spring and summer.While most species are active during the middlehours of the day, some summer-active beesconfine their flights to the cooler mornings andevenings and a few tropical species are knownto fly only at night.In terms of flower visitation, some bees aregeneralists while others display varying degreesof specialization. They may confine their foraging to flowers of one family, one to a fewgenera, or occasionally a single species of plant. Consequently, their geographic rangesand flight seasons are correspondinglyrestricted. Between activity periods, beepopulations usually survive in a dormant larvalstage. Floral specialists commonly displaystructural adaptations to their forage plants (e.g.an elongated proboscis in bees specializing intubular flowers). Special behaviours may alsobe evident. For example, many species shakedry pollen from tubular anthers (such as thoseof
) by vibrating their wing muscles,audibly buzzing as they do so.Male bees play no part in nest constructionor brood care, their sole function being to locateand fertilise females. Typically, they do this bypatrolling the preferred forage flowers or thenesting areas. Competition for females can beintense and males may fight each other to gainaccess to virgin females. Territorial behaviour isquite common where males defend a patch of habitat, often containing forage flowers, anddrive off rival males and any other flying insects.The yellow spotted males of certain
species, for example, establish and vigorouslydefend territories on fresh
flower heads.The males vary in size and larger males tend todominate in violent skirmishes with rivals.