Thursday 2 January 2020

2019 Wildlife Review: Bees, Wasps & Sawflies


The first warm day of the year on 19 January saw several Buff-tailed Bumblebee Bombus terristris and Honey Bee Apis mellifera on early flowering shrubs. Overall however Bumblebee numbers were down this year, with no records of Heath Bumblebee and fewer Tree Bombus hypnorum and Red-tailed Bumblebee Bombus lapidarius.

Spring saw the first gathering of solitary bees near their nesting holes, some with attendant cleptoparasite bees. Fork-jawed Nomad Nomada ruficornis was recorded new for site, a cleptoparasite bee of Orange-tailed Mining Bee Andrena haemorrhoa

Fork-jawed Nomad - Alan Keatley

Other cleptoparasite / host pairings include Painted Nomad Nomada furcata / Yellow-legged Mining Bee Andrena flavipes, Gooden’s Nomad Nomada goodeniana / Buffish Mining Bee Andrena nigroaenea and Southern Cuckoo Bumblebee Bombus vestalis / Buff-tailed Bumblebee.  

Southern Cuckoo Bee - Alan Keatley

In mid Summer Black-thighed Epeolus Epeolus variegatus were seen in small numbers with its host Hairy-saddled Colletes Colletes fodiens, as well as Large Sharp-tailed Bee Coelioxys conoidea and its host Coastal Leafcutter Bee Megachile maritima.

Coastal Leafcutter - Alan Keatley

There were also large congregations of Silvery Leafcutter Bee Megachile leachella, Sandpit Mining Bee Andrena barbilabris and Green-eyed Flower Bee Anthophora bimaculata along the Dune Ridge, with several Pantaloon Bee Dasypoda hirtipes in flower-rich grassland. 

Notable finds this year were the first Hairy-footed Flower Bee Anthophora plumipes and Long-faced Furrow Bee Lasioglossum punctatissimum for the Recording Area, as well as several sightings of the nationally scarce Black Andrena pilipes and Water-dropwort Mining Bee Andrena ampla.

Black Mining Bee - Alan Keatley

Autumn saw the expected emergence of Ivy Bee Colletes hederae alongside the remaining nectaring Honey Bee and Bumblebees. The season largely ended with the last flowering Ivy, but a few winter active Buff-tailed Bumblebee remained on the Hebe into December.


A number of Common Wasp Vespula vulgaris nests around the site meant there were plenty of activity from these social insects throughout the Summer and into the Autumn. A new site species was a Median Wasp Dolichovespula media found on 18th May, this species has been spreading across Britain since first reported in 1980s, with several Red Wasp Vespula rufa nests also present. The occasional sighting of Hornet Vespula crabro maintained this species fragile presence on site.

Median Wasp - Alan Keatley

A feature of the Summer is numbers of nectaring insects including several species of digger wasps on flowering umbellifers with Astata boops, Ectemnius cavifrons, Ectemnius continuus, Field Digger Wasp Melinus arvensis, Slender-bodied Digger Wasp Crabro cribrarius and Four-banded Digger Wasp Gorytes quadrifasciatus. A few Bee-wolf Philanthus triangulum were also noted, largely favouring Gypsywort, but no nests were located this year.

Four-banded Digger Wasp - Alan Keatley

Other solitary wasps recorded included Ancistrocerus gazella, Ancistrocerus scoticus and Red-banded Sand Wasp Ammophila sabulosa.

Many of the ichneumon wasps recorded have to go unidentified, but the spectacular looking species, Gasteruption jaculator was photographed.

Gasteruption jaculator - Alan Keatley


These insects are largely unrecorded on site, so it wasn’t a surprise that several relatively common species were found. These include Bramble Sawfly Arge cyanocroceaAlder Sawfly Heterarthus vagans, Macrophya annulataMacrophya duodecimputataOak Sawfly Periclista lineolata, Birch Sawfly Scolioneura betuleti and the recent invasive species Berberis Sawfly Arge berberidis. Other sawflies noted were the similar looking Aglaostigma aucupariae and Aglaostigma fulvipes.

Aglaostigma fulvipes - Alan Keatley

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