Tony was in the Waitakere Ranges, supervising vegetation clearance for a track upgrade, when he captured a snap of this cute little fellow, a Native Bee - Leioproctus, atop a native iris flower. The combo was just too stunning not to share.
Most of the bees in New Zealand are introduced honeybees and bumblebees, brought here to pollinate crops. But amongst the 41 species found here, there are 28 little-known native bees.
Leioproctus bees are the most commonly seen native bees of 18 species. They look similar to honeybees but are smaller. All are black except for the South Island species Leioproctus fulvescens, which is covered with dense orange-yellow hair.
Our native bees are pollinators, but unlike the long tongued introduced bees which can pollinate all kinds of introduced flowers the short-tongued native bees are generally better at pollinating native flowers.
This native iris flower is a Libertia. There are 3 species of the native Iris to look out for, in the Waitakere Ranges, this is easiest from late spring when they flower.
Photograph and text by Tony Payne.