On a less than glorious Sunday afternoon Dr Terry Houston and Andy Young held a capacity audience spellbound with their insights into Native Bees and Boronia Moths.
Dr Houston introduced us to the incredibly diverse world of native bees. There are 1,546 validly named and described Australian native bee species. Of these, 80 are found in Perth including the Blue Banded bee, the Leafcutter bee and a very newly discovered species that he described as ‘wacky’.
He explained the differences between European Honey bees and native bees, then went on to say that natives bees aren’t easily identified, as several photos illustrated. Many are wasp like in appearance and, just to complicate things, some wasps look like bees. He also talked about burrowing bees, Cuckoo bees and resin bees. For those keen to learn more, his forthcoming book ‘A Guide to Native Bees of Australia’ is due for release in August.
Andy Young is a member of a project team studying Heliozedae moths, a family of primitive moths. South West WA is a hotspot for these often lovely micro moths and Andy’s team has been researching their association with plants. He explained the obligate mutualism between these moths and Boronia megastigma, where the plant is the sole larval food for the moth, and the moth is the sole pollinator for the plant. He then showed us how this this rare and remarkable process takes place.
And if two fascinating talks weren’t enough, we were also treated to a lovely afternoon tea.