Tetragonula Carbonaria are a small hardworking bee that is found along the east coast of Australia predominantly between Sydney and Rockhamton. Some colonies are reported as far south as Bega and as far north of Cooktown.
They are slightly smaller than that of Tetragonula hockingsi and are a little more docile. When observing Tetragonula carbonaria inside their hive they are faster moving than that of Austroplebia species. Always doing something.
Tetragonula Carbonaria Brood
Carbonaria brood structure is one of the most attractive to look at because it is layered in a spiral formation. Here you can see a side view of the brood. The space in between is where the queen is currently laying and is called the advancing front. The lighter coloured brood cells above will be the next to hatch and once they are gone the queen will continue upwards till she reaches the top. She will then move back down the bottom where the darker cells will have become lighter in colour and she will repeat the process.
Tetragonula Carbonaria Entrance
Carbonaria tend to place a stick mix of resins around their entrance. This is for a couple of reasons. The first is that this sticky resin has antibacterial properties and cleans any pathogens from their feet as they enter. The second is that further north native bees often come under attack from ants – predominately leaf cutters and the sticky substance deters predatory insects from getting too close. Both Tetragonula carbonaria and hockingsi also protect their nests by sticking blobs of resin on their foes, although it is not often seen around the Brisbane area.
Carbonaria Measure from 3-4mm in length and the further you travel north the smaller they get. Some colonies that are starved and needing nutrition will be noticeably smaller.
Carbonaria will swarm when their hive is full every year.