Andrena cineraria is – I quote from BWARS – “a very distinctively marked ground-nesting bee”. Yes! It looks like a bee that is easy to identify.
Here she is having a pollen frenzy in a dandelion. She has also a common name – the Ashy Mining Bee. I find her very attractive with her ruff of white hair behind her head and a second white band at the rear of her thorax.
I am particularly fond of her because one day at the end of last March I saw her land on the ground when I was under the large plum tree in my back garden.
Then she promptly disappeared into the ground. Under the plum tree the grass is not usually very thick at this early time of year and there are quite a few bare patches. However, it was difficult to see where she had gone. So I had to sit and watch quietly for any movement.
Sometimes its only some soil moving and a black antenna appearing.
Then a whole head might appear. I did get the impression they could see me but maybe that is a bit paranoid. Certainly any movement and she would disappear back down the hole. I would love to show you a series of photographs as she finally emerges and takes flight but her exit is remarkably rapid and quite impossible for me to capture.
She is quite a fluffy bee and has more white hairs on her face that I can see when I get close enough to take a photograph.
I cannot be sure how many nests there were under the plum tree, I would guess at least six which is not a large nesting site for these bees. As the season advanced more grass grew over the bare patches and obscured the nest entrances making clear observation impracticable.
The Andrena cineraria were not the only mining bees to have chosen this site, they shared the site with another Andrena but that’s another story.