Monday, April 04, 2011

Early Mining Bees

I was thrilled to see this bee in my back garden, basking in the early morning sunshine on 12/03/11. This is a type of solitary mining bee and my first of the year. This bee is from the Genus Andrena, of which there are 67 species nationally.

It is extremely difficult to narrow this family of bees down to species level, but because of the date seen it could well be Andrena clarkella. The white hairs on the face indicate that this is a male. It is associated with sallow blossom and sometimes appears as early as mid-February.

They nest in the ground, and hence they are more commonly known as 'mining bees'. Although strictly solitary, females of many species of the Andrena group nest in dense aggregations and a few species have communal nest entrances.

This bee was observed basking in the early evening sunshine on my shed ivy on 27/03/11. Again extremely difficult to identify down to species level, but looking at other internet photographs, it could possibly be Andrena carantonica, which is a very common mining bee found between the end of march and mid July.