The fabulous Red-tailed Bumblebee Bombus lapidarius, is a particular favourite of mine.It is a common bumblebee and nests in a hole in the ground,sometimes under stones or at the base of a dry stone wall,hence their other common name the Stone Bumblebee.The queen pictured below emerges from hibernation in March.When the similar but much smaller workers hatch from the nest they take over pollen collecting duties while the queen concentrates on laying more eggs.An individual nest can have up to 200 bees and later in the year the males emerge.Only the newly hatched queens survive at the end of the season to hibernate and create a colony the next spring.
A male Red Mason Bee at Freshwater Bay.
Tuesday 26 April 2016
Thursday 21 April 2016
An unmistakable solitary bee seen at this time of the year is the Ashy Mining Bee,Andrena cineraria. A common bee in Britain and obvious by its black and ashy-grey markings.The females are black with two broad grey hairbands across the thorax,The males are similar,but the thorax is completely clothed with less dense grey hairs.In addition the male has a noticeable tuft of white hairs on the lower face.
This female pictured below appeared on the front passenger seat of my car and was happy to allow itself to be placed on a suitable leaf.
Tuesday 19 April 2016
Thursday 14 April 2016
The Yellow-legged Mining Bee,Andrena flavipes is an early spring solitary bee as mentioned in a recent previous post.That post featured a male,however now that pollen rich flowers are available this female was noticed enjoying the Spanish bluebells Hyacinthoides hispanica.
Tuesday 5 April 2016
Friday 1 April 2016
Of course not a bee, but the Dotted Bee-fly Bombylius discolor has a life cycle that is intertwined with that of the solitary bee.As with the more common Dark-edged Bee-fly the female scatters her eggs close to the nesting hole of the solitary bee.The larvae then find their way into the bees burrow where they will develop and finally take to the wing.It is unclear which particular species of bee is used but most probably one of the Andrena species such as Andrena falvipes.
The Dotted Bee-fly has a very limited distribution in the UK and the Isle of Wight is a stronghold for this species which is classified as Nationally Scarce in Great Britain.