The idea of a stingless bee may seem as strange as an octopus that can run, but they exist. Case in point is Australia's amazing sugarbag bees (Tetragonula carbonaria but previously known as Tragonula carbonaria), which not only do not sting, but also construct these amazing spiralling hives.
No one is sure why sugarbag bees build their hives in this way, but National Geographic has some guesses:
[Australian entomologist Tim] Heard says no one's quite sure why carbonarias make their hives in spiral formations, but the architecture could help queen bees navigate them easier. It could also make for better air circulation, because generally, other bee colonies are not well ventilated.
The way sugarbag bee hives are built offer an interesting clue into how these sugarbag bee colonies function: according to Heard, sugarbag bee hives only have one entrance, and it's protected by a bevy of guardian bees and covered with sticky, resinous material cerumen -- a mix of beeswax and propolis -- that kills any outside germs that might have hitched a ride on its member bees, as well as repelling intruders. Any invaders that do make it through are apparently "mummified" in mud and soil.
Heard's website -- which focuses on this one of 21 stingless bee species around the world, with 14 being endemic to Australia -- notes that:
Stingless bees are highly social insects, with one queen and thousands of workers who live together in a protected place, which, in nature, is usually in a hollow tree.
Once again, these amazing bees and their spiralling domains prove that nature is full of diverse wonders. To find out more about sugarbag bees, check out Tim Heard’s website, Facebook, or his book, Australian Native Bee.