The Dialogue Pages


Here I have created a series of ‘dialogues’ to help you identify some of the Australian native bees in your garden. You will need to factor in where you live when you try to identify the specimen.

I must make it clear that I'm not a taxonomist and am far from an expert. Identification of the bees in this section has been obtained, firstly through comparison of specimens with images on PaDIL or Atlas of Living Australia. Both of these sites are quite difficult to navigate but if you search for the genus, even if it's a guess, they will take you to a page that you may be able to get some comparative photos. Practice is the key to navigating these sites. Secondly, I am lucky enough to be able to call upon the expertise of Michael Batley, from the Australian Museum, to help me in my attempts to identify bees to species. This is not always possible from a photo, no matter how good the specimen. So we have been able to identify at least to genus. And I will include the common name, if there is one, where possible.

Having been through the process of trying to identify bees using the above web pages, I understand it is VERY difficult to do. And then, you're never sure if you have it right at the end of the process.

On this website, I will try to add some photos and explanations which will, hopefully, help. I apologise if some of these pages take a bit long to open. I have kept the photos quite large to maintain the quality and detail of the bee.

If you really want to identify the bees in your garden, you need to take accurate photos. Some people are able to do this while the bees are foraging, but to get a really clear photo that can be used for identification, there are some tips below.

Photographing the specimens

I no longer capture and kill bees for pinned specimens. It seems to be a little against the principles of being a ‘conservation educator’. I now capture bees and chill them to point where I can photograph them while they are sleeping.

*IMPORTANT – Please remember, solitary bees are not aggressive BUT they can sting!

This is what I use when I photograph captured bees;

  • An insect net (butterfly net)
  • Jar with lid
  • Refrigerator
  • Flat dish to place specimen in
  • Flat ice pack

Once I catch the insect I place it in the jar, inside the net. Insects usually try to fly UP so I put the jar over the top of the specimen so it will crawl or fly to the bottom of the jar. I then put the lid on. I place the jar and insect in the fridge and leave it until it has gone to sleep (at least 20 min) making sure I don't leave it for too long, it may die. I place the dish on the ice pack to cool. Once the insect is asleep, I tip it onto chilled dish. I then position the insect using a soft paint brush.

Take photos of;

  • The face
  • Dorsal (back) view
  • Ventral (front) view
  • Lateral (side) view
  • Good close shots of the abdomen.

Once I've finished photographing the specimen, I take the dish with the insect outside and place it in the sun to warm up. I can take photos as it wakes up too.

Use these photos to compare to images on PaDIL or Atlas of Living Australia. Or here ;o)


Bees Business is not responsible for, and expressly disclaim all liability for, damages of any kind arising from the use, reference to or reliance upon information contained in this brochure.