Monday 4 January 2021

Wildlife Review 2020: Bees & Wasps

A total of 32 bee species were seen during the year, with many of the usual Spring species missed. The year started well with a winter active Buff-tailed Bumblebee on 1 January and a very “early” Early Bumblebee queen on 15 January both nectaring on Hebe. A Trimmer’s Mining Bee Andrena trimmerana discovered on 12 March, was the first of six new bee species for the Warren in 2020.

Buff-tailed Bumblebee - Alan Keatley

Spring species that were recorded included Bronze Furrow Bee Halictus tumulorum, Grey-patched Mining Bee Andrena nitida, Marsham’s Nomada marshamella, Painted N.fucata and Gooden’s N.goodeniana Nomad Bees. Five further species of bumblebee were recorded; Garden, Red-tailed, Common Carder, Tree and Heath, the latter a welcome return after a blank in 2019.

Coastal Leafcutter - Alan Keatley

The first Yellow-legged Mining Bee Andrena flavipes was eventually recorded on 19 May, with Water-dropwort Mining Bee A. ampla on 21 May, and Sandpit Mining Bee A. barbilabris and Coastal Leafcutter Megachile maritima on 4 June. The first of many Silvery Leafcutter Megachile leachella were on the wing from 28 May, evidence of their handiwork was evident on favoured Birch saplings and almost every Bramble flower seemed occupied. 

During the Summer new species continued to emerge including Green-eyed Flower Bee Anthophora bimaculata on 13 June, Large Sharp-tailed Bee Coelioxys conoidea on 20 June, Pantaloon Bee Dasypoda hirtipes on 18 July, and White-zoned Furrow Bee Lasioglossum leucozonium on 22 August. The nationally uncommon and localised Black Mining Bee A,pilipes was found on 29 August. Initially found on meadow flowers the first male Ivy Bee Colletes hederae were early on 1 September before moving to Ivy with the emergence of females.

Large Sharp-tailed Bee - Alan Keatley

Several locally common species were first discovered on site this year, filling obvious gaps in the Warren list. With some as close as The Maer at Exmouth is wasn’t a surprise that they were eventually recorded at the Warren. These include Common Mini-miner Andrena minutula on 13 June, Common Yellow-faced Bee Hylaeus communis on 20 June, and later in September, a Bare-saddled Colletes Colletes similis on 3rd, Brown-footed Leafcutter Megachile versicolor  and Common Furrow Bee Lasioglossum calceatum on 10th and Orange-legged Furrow Bee Halictus rubicundus on 12th.

Common Yellow-faced Bee - Alan Keatley


Wasps form a very large and diverse group of species. Over the years over 150 species have been recorded at Dawlish Warren, in the past many of these would have been identified by collecting specimens. Recent records are by sight alone, so only the most recognisable can be identified to species level.

This year 33 species were recorded, out of these six were new for site. The least expected newcomer was the ichneumon wasp Callajoppa cirrogaster seen 16 July. One of the largest and most spectacular looking British ichneumon, it is a parasitic wasp of hawk-moth caterpillars. Other ichneumon wasps found this year were Pimpla rufipes, Apechthis compunctor and Enicospilus ramidulus.

Callajoppa cirrogaster - Alan Keatley

The sandy habitat at the Warren supports a good number of digger wasps, and as usual a variety of species were found this year. Digger wasps appear from mid May and can be seen nectaring on flowers, especially umbellifers. The following were seen this year: Common Spiny Digger Wasp Oxybelus uniglumis, Astata boops, Slender-bodied Digger Wasp Crabro cribrarius, Sand-tailed Digger Wasp Cerceris anenaria, Ornate-tailed Digger Wasp C. rybyensis, Four-banded Digger Wasp Gorytes quadrifasciatus, Ectemnius continuus, Bee-wolf Philanthus triangulum, Crossocerus quadrimaculatus, C. podragricus and Crossocerus megacephalus on Warren Point. This last species however avoids sand, burrowing into soft rotting wood to store captured flies for its larvae.

Crossocerus megacephalus - Alan Keatley

A few spider-hunting wasps species can be found patrolling at ground level over open areas. Many are difficult to identify, one that can be identified is Leaden Spider Wasp Pompilus cinereus. Another easily identified species Red-legged Spider Wasp Episyron rufipes, is a frequent visitor to umbellifers, the first of the year seen on 19 May.

Leaden Spider Wasp - Alan Keatley

Other solitary and parasitic wasps recorded included Gasteruption jaculator, a ruby-tailed wasp Chrysis ignita, Ancistrocerus nigricornis and A. trifasciatus with the common and conspicuous Red-banded Sand Wasp Ammophila sabulosa frequent in the dunes.

The plant galls of ten gall wasp species were recorded, amongst these were two new species, both found on oak, Striped Pea Gall Wasp Cynips longiventris and Neuroterus saliens.

Social wasps had a good year, both Common and German Wasp were numerous with several nests scattered around the site. Both species were active until on ivy until mid November, with a final Common Wasp on 19th December. A welcome record was Hornet, with two October records of this, less than annual, impressive social wasp.

Hornet - Alan Keatley

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