by Stephen Thorpe (email@example.com)
Research Associate, University of Auckland
A week is a long time in biosecurity, and there have been two significant developments since my last post regarding a new bee, which has now been confirmed by Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) as Hylaeus euxanthus.
Firstly, on 5 March 2015, I finally found my first female bee! It was visiting fennel flowers on the Tamaki Campus. It is strikingly different to the male of the species (see photos).
The first antennal segment is not short, broad or yellow. The face “mask” is very reduced (as expected), and the legs are largely black, except for a conspicous yellow band on the hind pair. It is sufficiently different from the females of the other species of masked bees in N.Z., not to be confused with them.
Secondly, MPI have recently received specimens from two other locations; nearby Point England and Saint Heliers. I think it likely that this is the first season that the bee has been present in any numbers in Auckland, since people evidently are noticing it now. It also suggests that it may currently be restricted to, or at least most abundant in, a relatively compact area of east Auckland. Checking flowering fennel across Auckland would help reveal its current distribution.
Thanks go to Rudi Schnitzler (MPI) for his work on confirming the identification.