By our back door is a grape vine which is currently flowering, although it’s not very obvious. The flowers on each bract have what I think of as “air petals” – in other words there are no petals, just anthers and stamens, and they look like this:
Despite the lack of petals, the flowers seemed to be attractive to a couple of little reed bees (exoneura sp), like this one:
I have seen these reed bees before, but never in our garden. Their common name derives from their nesting in the pith tube of dead reed stems, or sometimes lantana. They do not have tightly regimented hives or caste structures like honey bees, nor are they typically solitary. Instead they are flexibly social, adapting their mutual cooperation according to the environment. Sometimes different females in a group may specialise as foragers, guards, or nurses for the group.
The two bees I saw were clearly foraging for pollen, and perhaps nectar, before heading back to their nest. They were certainly getting plenty of pollen, as you can see from the quantity dusting this one's legs and underside:
Sadly the grapevine is an ornamental one, so there won’t be any fruit or wine to show for the bees’ efforts!
North Sydney – my home suburb – holds Sydney’s second largest CBD. However its parks and bushland areas, and those of neighbouring councils such as Willoughby, host a surprising variety of native flora and fauna. These bush areas are maintained by dedicated council staff, often working with local resident volunteers.