I have now recorded 87 wild bee species in Buckinghamshire. There are many more to find, but the ones I have found so far are as follows:
Andrena apicata, Andrena barbilabris, Andrena bicolor, Andrena chrysosceles, Andrena cineraria, Andrena clarkella, Andrena congruens, Andrena dorsata, Andrena flavipes, Andrena fulva, Andrena fuscipes, Andrena haemorrhoa, Andrena hattorfiana, Andrena helvola, Andrena minutula, Andrena nigroaenea, Andrena nitida, Andrena praecox, Andrena scotica, Andrena semilaevis, Andrena subopaca, Andrena varians, Anthidium manicatum, Anthophora plumipes, Anthophora furcate, Bombus campestris, Bombus hortorum, Bombus hypnorum, Bombus jonellus, Bombus lapidarius, Bombus lucorum, Bombus pascuorum, Bombus pratorum, Bombus ruderarius, Bombus rupestris, Bombus sylvestris, Bombus terrestris, Bombus vestalis, Chelostoma campanularum, Chelostoma florisomne, Colletes daviesanus, Colletes succinctus, Halictus rubicundus, Halictus tumulorum, Hylaeus communis, Hylaeus confuses, Hylaeus dilatatus, Hylaeus signatus, Lasioglossum albipes, Lasioglossum calceatum, Lasioglossum fulvicorne, Lasioglossum laevigatum, Lasioglossum leucopus, Lasioglossum leucozonium, Lasioglossum malachurum, Lasioglossum morio, Lasioglossum pauxillum, Lasioglossum villosulum, Megachile centuncularis, Megachile ligniseca, Megachile versicolor, Megachile willughbiella, Melitta tricincta, Nomada fabriciana, Nomada flava, Nomada flavoguttata, Nomada flavopicta, Nomada fucata, Nomada goodeniana, Nomada lathburiana, Nomada leucophthalma, Nomada marshamella, Nomada ruficornis, Osmia aurulenta, Osmia bicolor, Osmia bicornis, Osmia caerulescens, Osmia leaiana, Osmia spinulosa, Sphecodes crassus, Sphecodes ephippius, Sphecodes geoffrellus, Sphecodes gibbus, Sphecodes hyalinatus, Sphecodes monilicornis, Sphecodes niger, Sphecodes pellucidus
Sites for Bees
Buckinghamshire has some lovely sites for bees, and there is a lot more recording to do. I am going to go through some of my best recorded sites for bees in the county to highlight some of the diversity of bees in the county and some of my favourite finds.
Grangelands and The Rifle Range – 48 species
This is a lovely chalk grassland site owned by BBOWT. Hylaeus signatus is a specialist on weld and mignonette and was found on wild mignonette growing in the arable reversion area. This species is patchily distributed in Britain. Melitta tricincta is a specialist on red bartsia and is a really lovely bee which is not common around here. The males are super cute and zoom from flower to flower. Its cleptoparasite Nomada flavopicta is just as uncommon and was seen in the same area. The snail shell nesting species Osmia bicolor is very common site and is a lovely species. However one day I also came across Osmia aurulenta which was quite a surprise as this is predominately a coastal species. One day I also came across Andrena hattorfiana which is a specialist bee on scabious flowers. This species is very scarce and much declined in Britain, I jumped for joy when I saw it on site. Sadly I haven’t seen it again since. I also have recorded Lasioglossum laevigatum and Hylaeus dilatatus on site. Both fairly common in chalk / limestone districts, but lovely species!
College Lake – 42 species
College Lake is an old cement quarry that has been restored, mainly for wetland birds. However this site is great for lots of species, including bees. I have recorded 42 bee species on the site. Andrena apicata and Andrena praecox are some of the first solitary bee species I see each year and are specialists on sallow. Andrena apicata is widespread but rather scarce in Britain and is a beautiful sign of the spring each year at College Lake. I also have recorded Andrena congruens and Andrena varians here which are scarce species.
Aylesbury Garden – 37 species
My parents garden in the centre of Aylesbury is unlikely to turn up any great rarities, but is a very special place as it is so accessible and 37 species for an urban garden isn’t bad. I have recorded Andrena dorsata here which is a local species of solitary bee. I have also recorded Bombus ruderarius, the red-shanked carder bee here which is a much declined bumblebee species. But I take great delight in some of the more common species. The wool carder bee Anthidium maculatum is absolutely amazing as it guards its patch of lambs ear and fights off other bees. The females then use the hairs from this plant to build a almost cotton wool like nest with. A few years ago I purchased some bellflowers from a carboot sale and planted them in the garden, within a week the harebell carpenter bee, Chelostoma campanularum, showed up and the males can now be seen sat in the flowers every year since, waiting for females. My favourite species to watch in the garden has to be the leafcutter bees though, especially Megachile ligniseca which is a rather large and attractive species. Following them as they cut a section of leaf from the roses and carry it back to the nest is just magical.
Aston Clinton Ragpits – 16 species
This is a old chalk works site in the Chilterns and is a hidden gem. I haven’t spent as much time here as I should do. It was the first site where I recorded the snail nesting bee Osmia bicolor and I have many happy memories of seeing my first slow worms here. The fact I have only recorded 16 species here is a surprise and shows me that I need to visit this site more!
Dancersend – 16 species
This is another Wildlife Trust site and a mix of woodland and chalk grassland, with restoration areas etc. I never see many people here and it is a real escape. I have recorded the nomad bee Nomada lathburiana here which is the first time I had recorded this species in the county. This species is a cleptoparasite on the very common ashy mining bee, Andrena cineraria. Again, this is a site that needs more work, and I have lots of bees from this site still to identify and add to the site list.
Rammamere Heath – 16 species
Buckinghamshire is rather lacking in heathland, so the areas we do have are very special indeed and turn up species that are common elsewhere, but rare in the county. Andrena barbilabris is a sandy specialist mining bee, the males actually made me squeal when I first saw it, it is so cute! Its cleptoparasite Sphecodes pellucidus is also found on site. With heather on the site, you also get the specialist bees Andrena fuscipes and Colletes succinctus which only collect pollen from heather. I have spent lots of happy hours watching bees here foraging on the heather. This site is really good for wasps which have been the main focus for my recording here, but I must do more on the bees.
Andrena barbilabris female
Whitecross Green Wood – 16 species
I discovered this woodland site rather late in 2017. This site is managed mainly for its butterflies, but the open glades and woodland management is great for many other species too. I have recorded 16 species of bee here in the last year, but there must be lots more here and I am really keen to go back and do more recording. One of my highlights was finding Hylaeus confusus , this small black bee is widespread and locally common in Britain, but likes open woodlands so is in the right place!
Here is to 2018 and lots of bees in Buckinghamshire and beyond 🙂