Busy bee researchers from South Australia have discovered 26 new types of native silk bees, as part of a nationwide program to discover unknown plants and wildlife.
Previously it was thought that only one type of silk bee existed, but a hive of activity in the Outback has found it’s quite a big family after all.
Six of the new silk bee species, which cover the inside of their nest with self-produced silk to protect their offspring, were found during ‘Bush Blitz’ trips to the Outback.
A further 20 species were discovered when researchers from the South Australian Museum, Flinders University and The University of Adelaide went back through the archives and looked at previous collections.
There are 1650 known types of bees in Australia, but with much of the interior of Australia under-researched, it is estimated this makes up only two-thirds of the likely total across the country.
Dr Katja Hogendoorn from the University of Adelaide said the environmental and economic importance of bees made research into native species critical.
“This lack of knowledge affects our ability to assess the conservation status and undertake action to protect native bees,” she said.
Bush Blitz is a partnership between the Australian Government, BHP Billiton and Earth Watch Australia to document plants and wildlife in selected national reserves.
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