Native bees & wasps

Native bee on Hebe
Native bee on Hebe

New Zealand has many hundreds, if not thousands of species of native wasps and bees. Most of our native wasps are parasitic species, depending on other insects. They work as controlling agents so having these guys in your garden can keep other insect and spider numbers in check.

Many native species of wasp are small, have no or reduced wings and live around leaf litter. Some species look very much like small ants. Others are larger, in fact so large they hunt spiders such as the large tunnel webs and vagrant spiders. They are known as solitary hunting wasps. They are not aggressive by nature but can sting under provocation.

Parasitic wasp with vagrsnt spider
Parasitic wasp with a stunned vagrant spider

Most of our native bees are like the wasps, solitary species. However they can often be seen nesting close by. Bees play an important role when it comes to pollinating our native flowers. Plants like Hebe and native mistletoe are preferred. Without them, the world would be less green.

Some of New Zealand’s natives bees are small and black, the smallest between 4 and 8 mm, but some of the more commonly seen species in the genus Leioproctus are large, hairy and black.

Some bee species make nest holes in sandy ground and each specific species requires a different kind of sand. Some nest in dunes while others nest in fine grained sand. Other species are dependent on holes in trees and wood, sometimes old beetle holes. Leaving your garden, or parts of it, natural and untidy with hollow or rotten logs, rockeries, plenty of small cracks, and sandy areas can offer excellent habitat for these important insect. A small pile of sand is sometimes a sign of nest tunnels.