Eaton & Cringleford

What could that bee?

Just Regional
Apr 14, 2020 3 mins read

Naturalist and blogger SARAH HOOKWAY is a regular contributor to Just Regional and is asking everyone to look out for some visitors who are getting busy – and buzzy – in our gardens.

Being confined to our homes and gardens has given me a reason to focus on trying to photograph and identify the species that visit our little patch, and I’ve started with a few common bee species. The three species below are commonly found in gardens, feeding from a variety of plants and nesting close by.

The hairy-footed flower bee

The hairy-footed flower bee.

A beautiful, but very fast-flying bee, not settling for long before moving to another flower; female hairy-footed flower bees are completely black, but have striking amber bristles on their back legs. This is what caught my eye when I first spotted her. She moved so quickly, she was hard to keep track of, but in her few moments of stillness, I was transfixed, watching her extend and retract her very long proboscis when nearing and leaving flowers. The males look quite different and I have yet to spot one in the garden.

The early mining bee

The early mining bee.

I was enraptured by this tiny and furry-headed male early mining bee. I had been trying to photograph it for a few days – it seemed to have a favoured perch on the leaves of the winter honeysuckle. The males and females are quite distinctive, with the males being smaller and duller in colour than the females. As this one shows, they have buff coloured hairs on the head and sides of the thorax. It was this, and the long antennae protruding from that fluff that caught my eye.

The red mason bee

The red mason bee.

These lovely little bees have just begun to emerge in my garden; they often use bee nest boxes and will nest in any cavity – including in holes in old mortar and in the weep holes above our patio doors. The males emerge before the females and have much longer antennae. When the females have mated, they find a nesting cavity in which she will build a series of cells. In each cell, she lays an egg, leaves a food parcel of pollen and regurgitated nectar, then seals it with mud. She then repeats this until the cavity is full, with females developing at the back and males at the front. At present, the males are battling for prime position for when the females begin to emerge.

I am trying to focus on a different garden species each day in my blog, including insects, birds, mammals and plants:

More of what's happening in Eaton & Cringleford