Dr. Tim Heard, through his research and documentation efforts over the years, is determined to increase public awareness about the truly unique sugarbag honeybee.
The “discovery” of places or living things in nature about which very little is known or reported seems to pique our interest. This is perhaps because they are usually things that are existing or occurring right under our nose.
One delightful example comes from Australia-based entomologist Tim Heard, who has been spreading the word (creating a buzz seemed like an unfortunate phrase to choose in this instance) about sugarbag honey bees.With the aim to educate the public, Heard created a comprehensive website that provides visitors all the information they need to learn more about the stingless bees, which Heard adds are “highly social insects, with one queen and thousands of workers who live together in a protected place, which, in nature, is usually in a hollow tree.”
The hives do not resemble those found in other bee populations in a number of ways:
• The hives have an intricate, clockwise spiraling design.
• Each hive features only one entrance.
• The hive entrances are coated with a pathogen-blocking sticky layer, an extra line of defense for the bees which, according to Heard, “do not have a sting although they can give you a little bite with their jaws.”Heard maintains as many as 400 of the hives at a time and says that the shape is most likely created out of necessity to protect the integrity of the core of the hive: “What we’re looking at is the advancing front of a stingless bee colony,” he says, adding, “In the middle of the spiral, you have to construct cells that move with the change.”