Sunday 25 December 2022

Wildlife Review 2022 - Bees

An excellent year with a total of 50 species noted, including five new for the Recording Area, bringing the site audit to 71. 

As in recent years the first species of the year were wintering Buff-tailed Bumblebee Bombus terrestris on flowering Hebe shrubs on New Year's Day. By mid-month the first Honey Bee Apis mellifera had joined them. 

A period of warm sunny weather in March brought out a host of mining bees in quick succession; with flowering Alexanders and blossoming willows the main attraction. Starting off with Gwynne's Mining Bee Andrena bicolor on 12th, followed by Yellow-legged A. flavipes and Buffish Mining Bee A. nigroaenea from 17th, Trimmer's Mining Bee A. trimmerana on 18th, Chocolate Mining Bee A. scotica from 23th and on 26th, the first of many Sandpit Mining Bee A. barbilabris

Buffish Mining Bee Andrena nigroaenea - Alan Keatley

It wasn't just mining bees on the wing in March with Garden Bumblebee B. hortorum and Common Carder Bee B. pascuorum from 18th, Tree Bumblebee B. hypnorum, Red-tailed Bumblebee B. lapidarius and Furry-claspered Furrow Bee Lasioglossum lativentre on 23rd and Green Furrow Bee L. morio and Marsham's Nomad Bee Nomada marshamella, a cleptoparasite of Chocolate Mining Bee on 26th.

Red-tailed Bumblebee Bombus lapidarius - Alan Keatley

The diversity continued to increase through April with Orange-legged Furrow Bee Halictus rubicundus on 7th, Common Furrow Bee L. calceatum and Hairy-footed Flower Bee Anthophora plumipes on 10th, the latter nectaring on Ground-ivy. Orange-tailed Mining Bee A. haemorrhoa, preferring hawthorn blossom, were out in numbers by 21st, with Short-fringed Mining Bee A. dorsata the next day, and the nationally scarce Black Mining Bee A. pilipes from 24th.

Orange-tailed Mining Bee Andrena haemorrhoa - Alan Keatley

In May a wide range of species were emerging to feed in the flower meadows and bramble starting with Common Mini-miner Andrena minutula on 3rd, Red Mason Bee Osmia bicornis on 5th and a Welted Lesser Mason Bee Hoplitis claviventris on 7th. A new species was recorded on 12th, a Flavous Nomad Bee N. flava, a common cleptoparasite of Chocolate Mining Bee and therefore not an unexpected first for site. White-zoned Furrow Bee L. leucozonium on 15th and Bronze Furrow Bee Halictus tumulorum on 19th were both nectaring on Dandelion.

Flavous Nomad Bee Nomada flava - Alan Keatley

Although not early this year, the first Early Bumblebee B. pratorum was seen on 21 May, alongside a Heath Bumblebee B. jonellus, retaining the species tenuous hold on site. The second new species, Hairy Yellow-faced Bee Hylaeus hyalinatus was found on umbellifers on 22nd, the same day as the first Fork-jawed Nomad Bee N. ruficornis. Large Shaggy Bee Panurgus banksianus and Reticulate Blood Bee Sphecodes reticulatus appeared from 26th. The month ended with the first of many Silvery Leafcutter Megachile leachella from 27th.

Hairy Yellow-faced Bee Hylaeus hyalinatus - Alan Keatley

June was no less busy for emerging species with Vestal Cuckoo Bumblebee B. vestalis on 2nd and Fork-tailed Flower Bee Anthophora furcata on bramble flowers on 8th. Preferring umbellifers the first Common Yellow-faced Bee Hylaeus brevicornis of the year was also seen the same day. A Shiny-vented Sharp-tail Coelioxys elongata, the first since 2011, was found inspecting nest holes in the railway wall on 16th, but it wasn't until 9 Jul that its host - Patchwork Leafcutter M. centuncularis was observed entering the nest holes. 

Shiny-vented Sharp-tail Coelioxys elongata - Alan Keatley

Patchwork Leafcutter Megachile centuncularis - Alan Keatley

Black-thighed Epeolus E. variegatus emerged on 16 Jun, quickly followed by the appearance of its host - Hairy-saddled Colletes C. fodiens on 22th. The first Coast Leafcutter M. maritima appeared on 18th, with many active Green-eyed Flower Bee Anthophora bimaculata from 21st. The next day, as well as the Hairy-saddled Colletes, Pantaloon Bee Dasypoda hirtipes were nectaring on yellow hawkbit flowers.

Black-thighed Epeolus E. variegatus - Alan Keatley

Large Sharp-tail Coelioxys coniodea were seeking out their Coast Leafcutter hosts from 7 Jul. The third new bee for the Recording Area was also found on the 7th; Small Shaggy Bee P. calcaratus nectaring on its preferred hawkbit flowers. Bare-saddled Colletes C. similis were first noted on 23rd. 

Small Shaggy Bee Panurgus calcaratus - Alan Keatley

Many Colletes were active in August, particularly on Water Mint and Common Fleabane, joining them were Sandpit Blood Bee S. pellucidus from 5th. Another new bee for the site, Heather Colletes C. succinctus on 23rd, unsurprisingly found on Heather, its presence was suspected last year and there is an unconfirmed pre-1969 record. 

Heather Colletes C. succinctus - Alan Keatley

In September, the first Ivy Bee C. hederae appeared on 6th, but they weren't numerous until the Ivy was out in full flower later in the month. On the 15th, the fifth and final new bee of 2022 was found; a Shaggy Furrow Bee L. villosulum, a common and widespread bee with a long flight period into October.

Ivy Bee Colletes hederae - Alan Keatley

Into November, a late Common Carder Bee as well as several Buff-tailed Bumblebee and Honey Bee were still active on ornamental shrubs.

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