Australian native stingless bee - Trigona carbonaria
Australia has around 12 species of native bees that live in hives and which do not sting! They are small (about 3-5 mm in length), compact, dark-coloured bees. Stingless bees are mainly found in the northern and eastern areas of Australia. Each nest has a queen, drones and thousands of workers. These bees produce sugar bag honey, a highly prized food of Aborigines who gathered it from wild nests. Each hive produces only small amounts of sugar bag, less than 1 kg per year and so it is a special product, to be savoured and relished.
Stingless bee nests are made of wax and resin and are built in hollow tree trunks, branches, fallen logs and rock crevices. Unlike honeybees, the cells used to rear the larvae, the brood comb, are separated from larger ‘pots’ that are used to store the honey and pollen. Some species of stingless bees are very similar. Often the most reliable way to tell them apart is the structure of the nests, particularly the shape of the brood comb.
The common stingless bee in south-eastern Queensland is Trigona carbonaria. It is black with whitish hairs on the side of the thorax. The brood comb of this species is a characteristic horizontal spiral. Trigona carbonaria can be domesticated in artificial hives such as wooden boxes. It is found in coastal areas of eastern Australia from the Atherton Tablelands in Queensland to Bega in New South Wales.
(Text Source: Queensland Museum)