Buzz Pollination: Honeybees were introduced to Australia from Europe in the 1820s. They play a vital role in crop pollination and honey production. Unfortunately feral honeybee colonies are now widespread in Australian bushland. They compete with native insects for nectar and pollen resources. We consider our native insects just as important as other more visible Australian wildlife and try to provide plants that have flowers attractive to native insects rather than their larger and more aggressive exotic cousins. Kunzeas, Baeckeas and Bursarias are some of the native genera that have small, nectar-filled flowers that attract large numbers of native insects. Honeybees appear to consider it beneath their dignity to visit these small flowers.
A recent book purchase has alerted us to another group of plants that are adapted to pollination by native insects to the exclusion of honeybees. Native Bees of the Sydney Region is published by the native Bee Research Centre and describes many species that occur throughout eastern Australia. Plants used by native bees are also described. Some native plants have modified anthers (the pollen bearing male flower parts) that need to be vibrated at high frequency to release their pollen. A number of Australian bees have the ability to rapidly vibrate their bodies whilst clinging to a flower. The pollen erupts from the anthers and is attracted to the bees body by static electricity.
Members of the Solanaceae family, Hibbertias and Dianella (Flax Lily) have these specialized anthers. Solanum cinereum is one Buzz Pollinated species that occurs naturally at Yallaroo. Carpenter and Blue-banded Bees visit this prickly specimen. They make a loud buzzing noise as the pollen is being extracted. Honeybees are unable to Buzz Pollinate.