Title Photo

A male Red Mason Bee at Freshwater Bay.

Friday 11 December 2015

Pine Honey.

While on holiday to the north-eastern  Aegean Island of Thassos a visit was made to the Beekeeping Cooperative where the honey is processed and refined. It receives honey from over 100 family-run independent producers who are  renowned for their dark caramel coloured pine honey.To give this honey it's delicious taste the bees feed on a white fungus that lives on the local pine trees, as pictured below.This fungus is available to the bees in August so it therefore prolongs the honey making season. The white cotton-like waxy secretion is made by an insect called Marchalina hellenica.     

Once taken from the hive the honeycombs are scraped to remove the caps made by the bees to seal each cell. The frames are then placed in an extractor to separate the honey from the comb by spinning, which forces the liquid to the sides of the machine.Gravity then allows the honey to fall to the bottom of the extractor for collection.
After the honey is extracted,it is heated to aid the process of straining.This removes any remaining pieces of wax and any other particles.Finally the honey is bottled and labelled for sale, either to visitors on the premises or for distribution all over the Island and mainland Greece.      

Tuesday 20 October 2015

Here At Last.

A couple of days ago the first female Ivy Bees emerged from the cliff colony at Monks Bay.Yesterday the number of male bees flying around the nest holes had drastically diminished and several females were coming and going with their full pollen sacs.(Thanks to A.N.Other for the use of his photo of mating Ivy Bees)

The Ivy Bee coastal cliff colony at Monks Bay.

Wednesday 23 September 2015


Another visit to my local colony of Ivy Bees today and the spectacle of hundreds of male bees buzzing around the nesting holes on the cliffs.No sign as yet it seems of the emerging females, despite the males investigating the nesting burrows and pouncing on any bees that may be near.They quickly realized that any bees that emerged from the burrows were investigating males.

Thursday 17 September 2015

Ready and Waiting.

The Ivy Bee,Colletes hederae,is the last bee of the year to emerge as it feeds on the blossom of the Ivy.Now a resident in the UK since 2001 they are a mining bee,making use of soft sandy cliffs and banks for their nesting holes.The males are the first to appear,and at my local colony situated on south facing coastal cliffs they are now flying about awaiting the appearance of the females from their burrows.Once emerged the females are then mated and they begin to collect pollen for the eggs they have laid in their nest holes.These holes can be counted in hundreds on the cliff face and are up to 30cms in length. 

Friday 4 September 2015

A Little Lasioglossum.

This male Lasioglossum was one of many seen on the sandy cliffs at Bonchurch yesterday.Not more than a centimetre in length it is impossible to confirm the particular species.
In a short while these cliffs will be populated by the attractive Ivy Bee Colletes hederae

Thursday 20 August 2015

Europe's Largest Bee.

The Violet Carpenter Bee, Xylocopa violacea is a bee of southern Europe although sighting have been made in the UK.I have not been lucky enough as yet to see Europe's largest bee here on the Isle of Wight.Perhaps there would be a chance to see one on my latest holiday to the Greek Islands which took place last week although I had already come across this bee on the Greek Island of Lefkada in May. I was not disappointed as I was treated to two separate sightings despite the fact that by now the bees are showing some wear and tear and their wings have lost that lovely violet colouring.


Thursday 11 June 2015

A Cuckoo Bumblebee.

The Southern Cuckoo Bumblebee,Bombus vestalis is one of three species of cuckoo bumblebee recorded on the Isle of Wight.This one pictured was seen on a giant thistle on the Islands' downland. Identifying a cuckoo from other common bumblebees can be tricky, however this particular genus has no pollen basket and the outer surface of the hind tibia has hairs.It will also be seen that the wings are quite dark.Another feature of the Psythirus i.e.Cuckoo Bumblebees is the very quiet buzz compared with other bumblebees.

Wednesday 6 May 2015

Andrena carantonica.

This mining bee is seen from March to June and although it seems to have no common name it can be described as one of the larger mining bees.The bee is also known as Andrena scotica.The photo below of a female, does not confirm that this individual is an A.carantonica,however it would seem likely.
Andrena carantonica is one of the most common Andrena species in the UK, where it nests in sandy soils usually near to pathways.This is because they do not like to have their nests obstructed by overgrowing plants.There is one communal entrance used by the females that divides underground into separate chambers for each bee. 

Wednesday 29 April 2015

Garden Bumblebee.

The Garden Bumblebee.Bombus hortorum is a common bumblebee and I see it at this time of year in my garden.However this particular bee pictured below was discovered in my local copse feeding on Bugle flowers.This species has a very long tongue and  prefers flowers with deep tubes.
Perhaps the best way to distinguish between B. hortorum and other species with similar banding,such as the Heath Bumblebee,is the shape of the face which is distinctly long in the case of  B. hortorum.

Sunday 26 April 2015

Tawny Mining Bee.

Although locally common in southern England and Wales this solitary bee is not a species that we see all that often on the Isle of Wight.This female is certainly a beautiful bee and she landed at my front door this afternoon.This is the first I have seen of this species Andrena fulva and hopefully now that our fruit trees are in full bloom there will be more in the garden.

Saturday 18 April 2015

Lasioglossum at Home.

There are many Lasioglossum species and identification is usually difficult without close examination.Therefore I am unsure of this particular species but the sight of numerous bees coming going at their nest site on a sandy but grassy bank of my local pond was a treat.
Despite being a solitary bee the Lasioglossum excavate their individual nest holes in loose colonies and hence can be known as mining bees or sweat bees. 

Thursday 16 April 2015

A Tiny Piece of Spring Colour.

Spring has definitely arrived now and solitary bees are out in numbers and pollinating all the fresh new blooms.One bee that is unmistakable is the colourful Gold-fringed Mason Bee,Osmia aurulenta.

Tuesday 14 April 2015

Mission Impossible.

Perhaps this Common Carder Bee is being somewhat optimistic is its attempt to get to the nectar on this tulip in my garden.

Monday 13 April 2015

Springtime Hots Up.

With the settled weather we are enjoying here at present, spring has certainly got underway with lots of activity in my garden.Now that many of the spring plants and shrubs are beginning to bloom I have seen quite a few bumblebee species.Solitary bees are appearing regularly around the garden and I was pleased to see several probable male Grey-patched Mining Bees,Andrena nitida, vying for a sunny spot on one of our small trees.The male can be identified from the female by the light coloured hairs on the face which are normally absent in the female.

Saturday 11 April 2015

A Hairy Foot on the Rosemary.

Our flowering Rosemary is proving quite an attraction for various bees now and this afternoon it received a lot of attention from a male Hairy-footed Flower Bee,Anthophora plumipes.
This species of bee is common in the south of England with the male usually appearing before the female in February or March.

Wednesday 8 April 2015

Pondside Pollinator.

This female Grey-patched Mining Bee,Andrena nitida,was seen busily nectaring on the flowers of   marsh marigolds that surround my garden pond.This species is found in southern England from April to June and nests in short to medium length grassland.

Monday 6 April 2015

A Sure Sign of Spring.

At last the spring weather has arrived with a warm and sunny day and the prospect of it continuing for a while yet.
A sure sign of spring was my first sighting of a Hairy-footed Flower Bee,Anthophora plumipes in my garden.The flowers are now bursting into bloom and this species will be seen hovering around the plants taking nectar. Anthophora plumipes should be with us in the south of England until mid June.

Wednesday 25 March 2015

Bombylius major - The Dark-edged Bee-fly

The Dark-edged Bee-fly or Large Bee-fly is the most common bee-fly in the UK and today I came across several individuals in my local wood. I spied my first of the year last week at the same location as they busily feed on primrose flowers.
The Bee-fly is a bee mimic and resembles a small bumblebee.The larvae of  Bombylius major parasitise the broods of solitary bees and wasp nests as well as beetle larvae.The female Bee-fly has been observed flicking her eggs in midair into the nest tunnels of ground nesting bees and wasps.Here the eggs hatch and attack the host larva when it is about to pupate.

Thursday 19 March 2015

First Solitary Bee.

Unlike the last two days the weather today was a disappointment.Gathering cloud after lunchtime caused  quite a drop in temperature and any chance to see foraging bees became unlikely.However in my local wood it seemed that the only flowering daisy I came across produced a solitary mining bee.This female is probably one of the Lasioglossum species.