|African Tulip Tree|
I wondered why our native bees were declining in our food forest. there are a number of African Tulip Trees nearby.
"The African Tulip Tree (Spathodea campanulata) is listed as a Class 3 pest by the DPI, and can no longer be sold or distributed in Qld. However its past history of distribution as a street and landscaping tree has ensured plentiful escapes into natural and urban habitats displaying the behaviour that justifies its inclusion in the Global Invasive Species Database “Top 100 World's Worst Invaders”.Drive around most suburbs of Brisbane or other Queensland towns and the chances are you will see examples on the the footpath or in yards. Out in the countryside, its bright orange flowers stand out over the cooler months of the year.
Unfortunately if one takes the time to look closer, this beauty conceals a lethal threat to our stingless bees. Look at the sprays of flowers and you will see stingless bees attracted to the flowers for foraging. Look closer and you will see the bees gathering pollen, and seemingly imbibing other plant secretions as well as nectar. Unfortunately if you continue the examination into the flowers, you will find the result of that foraging for pollen and nectar, a collection of dead and dying stingless bees and other insects.
While I cannot say just what the chemical mechanism of the toxicity is, it seems to be quick, I have watched a bee in its death throes within the flower itself. I have collected many such specimens.
Information published in Brazil found that the gathered pollen did not get back to the hives, so the attracted bees are killed before they can return. Unfortunately the mechanism of attraction is strong and the numbers of stingless bees killed can be quite large in areas where stingless bees are present."
by Bob Luttrell, Bob the Beeman. (B Ag Sc)
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