Spring Bees To Look Out For

We are now past the spring equinox and sunny days are becoming more frequent. In Britain, early spring to me means the end of the cold dark, often lifeless winter and the dawn of lots of flying insects.

A lot of bee species are rather localised and tricky to ID in the field. However there are some easy recognisable spring species for you to look out for. Please do report any sightings to the Bees, Wasps and Ants Recording Society via iRecord or through the specialised pages on their website that I have linked to below. Please don’t forget to attach pictures where possible as this helps with verification.

Anthophora plumipes (hairy-footed flower bee)

This fast flying bee looks rather like a small bumblebee but is actually a species of solitary bee. This species especially favours lungwort flowers however BWARS also aim to see which other plant species it visits. This species is rather distinctive and shows strong sexual dimorphism, the males are a lovely gingery colour whereas the females are all black. Unfortunately I am yet to get any decent photos of female hairy-footed flower bees.

Anthophora plumipes male

Anthophora plumipes male

To find out more about this species and recording your sightings, please see here

Andrena cineraria (ashy mining-bee)

This lovely, distinctive, solitary bee has to be one of my favourites. It may not be bright and colourful but I find this species subtly beautiful. Andrena cineraria nests in the ground and flies from early April until early June. The males and females look similar.

Andrena cineraria

Andrena cineraria female

To find out more about this species and recording your sightings, please see here

Andrena fulva (tawny mining bee)

The females of this species are rather distinctive and have a wonderful bright orange colouring. The males are much less distinctive. This species nests in soil including lawns and leaves volcano shaped piles of excavated earth around where it has nested.

Andrena fulva female

Andrena fulva female

To find out more about this species and recording your sightings, please see here

Osmia bicornis (red mason bee)

This species is one of the most numerous bee species that I record in my garden, mainly because I provide nesting habitat for them. This species, along with the others mentioned above, are prolific pollinators of fruit trees and I have them to thank (not honeybees!) for the bountiful  fruit crops in my garden each year. Despite being common in my garden, I have no decent photos of this species really.

Osmia bicornis male

Osmia bicornis male

To find out more about this species and recording your sightings, please see here

Providing you don’t pick them up, all these species are safe with children so why not get them involved too! Happy bee recording. 🙂

My latest attempt at finding bees

On Friday I took myself off to College Lake, a nature reserve owned by the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust. The site is an old cememnt quarry and is made up on two large adjacent lake s surrounded by areas of chalk grassland, neutral grassland and woodland. I visited the site last Wednesday to do some voluntary work clearing scrub from an area of bare chalk known as the bench, this area is used by ground nesting birds so is not accessible to the public, therefore making it a real treat to go in there. I noted on Wednesday that the coltsfoot and sallows on site were in flower and decided I would return that Friday.


The bench

Although I couldn’t access ‘The Bench’ on Friday when I visited alone, which was a shame as it looked superb for bees and wasps, I did manage to find lots of bees on coltsfoot and sallow on the rest of the site. A lot of these species are tricky to identify confidently in the field, even for experts (which I am not!).

Probably Andrena bicolor female

Possible Andrena bicolor female

Probable Lasioglossum morio females

Possible Lasioglossum morio females

Buff tailed bumblebee (Bombus terrestris) queen

Buff tailed bumblebee (Bombus terrestris) queen

Andrena praecox - a sallow specialist

Andrena praecox – a sallow specialist


A selection of bee photos from Friday


2 responses to “Spring Bees To Look Out For

  1. Excellent! Now I just need the bees to keep still long enough for me to get a good look at them 😉

  2. Pingback: Spring Has Sprung (Finally) | Ryan Clark Ecology

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