Native Stingless Bees – Tetragonula Carbonaria

Some basic info for Native Stingless Bees

  • Hive Position: Some morning sun to warm the hive early and shade for the rest of the day is ideal. The Australian Native Stingless Bee Hive is perfectly safe to keep in your backyard, verandah or patio as they don’t sting or annoy people. During our hot Summers the bees probably don’t need any morning sun.
  • Temperature: The bees don’t leave the hive until temperatures reach 18 degrees so the hive can get a little quiet in winter. They can handle very cold temperatures but not for too long. They don’t like extreme heat either. Temperatures that reach 42 degrease have been reported to kill the bees.
  • Queen: Hives contain more than 5000 bees – with one mated queen.
  • Honey: Hives produce around 500 grams of honey per year, also known as Sugarbag. Honey can be removed from the top section of the hive / Honey Super. If you’re splitting a hive it may be best to leave the honey there as the bees may need the resources to recover from the hive split.
  • Range: The bees can travel around 500m distance from the hive to collect resources. They may travel further if they need to. (European Honey Bees travel 5km away from the hive)
  • Pollination: Bees can help pollinate crops for Farmers, and also your backyard garden
  • Brood: Stingless Bees have a single use brood cell (European Honey Bees use the cells over and over)
  • Swarming: You may notice fighting swarms and also mating swarms starting around September/October. One colony may be trying to take over another, or there may be bees from multiple colonies competing to mate with a new Queen

OATH Hives

  • OATH:  “Original Australian Trigona Hive” Developed by Tim Heard more info here
  • Splitting or Mulitplying hives: Depending on the success of the hive and the amount of resources the bees have built up, the hives can be split, usually once a year in the warmer months though they would benefit by not being split so often so they can build and maintain a strong hive. It’s not necessary to split a hive if you don’t want to. The bees will carry on quite happily without being split.
  • Availability: In Winter you may find it difficult to purchase a Native Bee Hive as people don’t want to disturb the bees. The cold temperatures and short days mean the bees aren’t very active. Moving or placing a new hive may further disrupt the hive and increases the risk of loss. See a list of sellers for Native Bee Hives including bees here:

Below: Native bees collect resin from the Cadaghi tree and sometimes the seeds stick to their legs and they deposit the seeds outside of the hive. The seeds may build up outside the hive but this doesn’t seem to cause any issues for the bees. The Cadaghi Tree is native to north Qld but is classed as a weed in Brisbane.

A short video showing the morning bee activity..

Below, the Honey Super – upsidedown – showing the honey pots…

Five Eyes – Did you know Bees have five eyes? The three other eyes are called simple eyes or ocelli. Notice them on the top of the head. They don’t see images but detect light…

Popular species of Stingless Bees

  • Tetragonula Carbonaria -also sometimes called “Tc”
  • Tetragonula Hockingsi – “Th”
  • Austroplebeia Australis – “Aa”

Pests that can destroy hives:

  • Hive Syrphid Fly – Ceriana Ornata
  • Hive Phorid Fly – Dohrniphora Trigonae
  • Small Hive Beetle – Aethina tumida

What are they talking about?  Here’s some weird words you may hear in the Native Bee World…

  • Sugar Bag – Native Bee Honey
  • Propolis – Mixture of Native Bee wax and plant resin
  • Cerumen – Mixture of Native Bee wax and plant resin
  • Involucrum – An enveloping membrane that protects the brood
  • OATH – Original Australian Trigona Hive
  • Honey Super – Part of the box that is intended for honey storage
  • Brood Supports – Parts of the hive box that stop the brood from dropping downward

Useful Links:

Check what’s in the 500 metre radius of your bee hive:

Check species in your area:

Here’s a page with some photos to help you identify Bees, Wasps and Flies:

European Wasp Identification Guide:

*All photos on this page are taken by me, of my bees and hives.