Fringe Box



Letter: Rare Bee Spotted in Guildford

Published on: 2 Jul, 2016
Updated on: 2 Jul, 2016

From Harry Eve

Thanks to Hugh Coakley for his articles on Honey Bees. They  take us into the fascinating world of a species that we humans have developed a close relationship with – mainly for the economic benefits of honey and beeswax.

At least our honey bees have a home to go to. Solitary bees are “homeless” and have to find somewhere to shelter in wet weather.

Harry Eve's Bee

Can you see a bee? (Click on images to enlarge)

The arguments over pesticide use also remind us of the importance of other insect pollinators to our wellbeing – bumblebees gaining much of the credit.

Hugh’s recent Beekeeper’s Notes July 2016 mentioned one our solitary mining bees, Andrena hattorfiana, that I found sheltering in a common spotted orchid yesterday (June 30).

Previously, I have only found them under less exotic flower-heads.

See if you can spot it in the orchid photo and then look at the enlargement at the end of this letter.

This is a male (easily distinguished from the female by its prominent white “lip”). It also has a fine“head” of brown hair on its thorax but they tend to go bald after a while.

The females are very distinctive when carrying scabious pollen to provision the mines that their young develop in.

Another photo shows the even rarer red-banded variety.

Harry Eve Bee

The even rarer red-banded Andrena hattorfiana bee

There are many other species of mining bee living in Guildford, including one that selects only the pollen of White Bryony. This one rejoices in the name Andrena Florea.

Harry Eve bee

The Andrena Florea bee feeds only on the pollen of white bryony.

White Bryony is also home to the Bryony Ladybird, a species that was first recorded in Britain as recently as 1997.

Harry Eve ladybird
Its distribution is still quite limited in the UK but it does seem to like Guildford’s countryside. It has eleven spots on its wing cases – not all visible in the photo.

There he is!

There he is!

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