I am continuing my winter identification of the bees I have seen last year. This will be the fifth bee I have identified.
I first saw the nest near one of the apple trees and I marked it with a stick so that I could keep an eye on it.
I was rewarded later when I caught site of a bee heavily laden with pollen.
These photographs are taken without a Macro lens.
When the photographs are enlarged I could notice a droplet at the far end of her abdomen but the quality of the photograph is poor.
I tried to check it as often as I could but although it remained open, I had no more luck in seeing my bee.
Then on 31 March when I looked into the hole it looked darker.
As I watched an eye appeared.
She appeared to be enlarging…
and enlarging the hole.
I became braver and tried to get a little closer as she seemed so absorbed in her work.
I had now bought my Macro lens and was able to get a better shot.
Colletes is the only genera with S-shaped second recurrent vein on the forewing so later I was able to identify the genus.
I watched her for 37 minutes, taking quite a few photographs.
It wasn’t until near the end that I realised she was, in fact, closing her hole. Satisfied her work was complete, she flew away.
I kept watch on the hole but it was never disturbed and gradually disappeared under the vegetation that constitutes our lawn.
We have willows or I believe sallows (Salix caprea) that were flowering from the beginning of March last year and also a very large plum tree that started to flower mid March so I think she would have not have had to fly far for pollen.
The droplet on her rear abdomen intrigues me as the Colletes produce a cellophane-like material to line their nests and I wonder if this could ooze onto her abdomen.
Another intrigue! I found this layer of cellophane-like material adhering to the outside of a bee hotel in my front garden in August.
Close by a single hole had been sealed by what looked like the same material. The photograph is poor as the surface was reflective and I was not able to show the shininess of the surface in my photographs.
Do any Colletes species nest in holes in wood? Does another bee use this material to fill its holes? I’d love to find out.
I’ll be keeping my eye on my bee hotel and also on the area that my Colletes has built her nest. My sandy soil and willows might attract even more Colletes to nest in the garden.