Brisbane Branch – March 2023

The Brisbane branch held its monthly meeting on 5 March at the Bulimba Community Centre where 30 people attended in person as well as another 20 on Zoom. The main business was a presentation on “Resin use and response to disturbance in Australian stingless bees” by Ryan Newis. Ryan has a Bachelor in Environmental Science with Honours in stingless bee chemical ecology. He is currently working towards his PhD, and has extensive experience working in honey bee and stingless bee research, has worked with commercial bee keepers, and is a stingless bee keeper and enthusiast.

Ryan presented interesting data from two studies, the first was what plants provide the resin resources that the stingless bees need for nest building material, defence, nestmate recognition and intruder detection? Resin was collected from foraging bees returning to four Tetragonula carbonaria hives at each of four different locations on the Sunshine Coast, over three “seasons” with differing combinations of temperature and humidity (March, July and November). Two locations were in the natural forest landscapes and the other two were in suburban environments. The plants that provided the resins were identified using DNA metabarcoding techniques. Surprisingly, Corymbia torelliana (Cadaghi) res-in was the dominant resin collected in all seasons and both environments. Most native beekeepers know about the capsule resin (inside the gumnut) that is abundant when the trees fruit, however the tree also produces trunk resin and and at the base of leaves. These resins are chemically different to the capsule resin. There were other resins collected in lower proportions, with the forest locations showing greater diversity.

The second study that Ryan reported on was carried out in a macadamia plantation in the Bundaberg region, during the flowering time. Twelve hives were placed in the plantation and were ob-served to record their foraging behaviour (numbers of foragers and whether they were returning with pollen, resin or nectar). After two weeks half of the hives were split and the foraging behaviour of all hives were observed as before for the following month. As expected, the six unsplit hives did not change their foraging behaviour, but did show a tapering off over the month as the flowering time came to an end. The split hives immediately changed to significantly lower foraging activity with a high preference for resin despite the abundance of pollen from the flowering. Even after 25 days the split hives still showed significantly lower foraging activity than the unsplit ones. The takeaway from this is that if we are using stingless bees for pollination services, don’t split during the flowering time as the split hives will immediately stop collecting pollen and hence pollination.
Thankyou Ryan for an interesting and information-filled presentation.

This session was recorded and it is available on YouTube HERE. Ryan indicated that he would like to come along to future meetings as he has a few hives himself.

Greg Shea, Secretary, ANBA Brisbane Branch
For more info on branch activities, visit our Facebook page Brisbane Branch, Australian Native Bee Association,

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