Under the plum tree again

It was half past six in the evening and we had just returned from a walk when we decided to have a last look at the back garden.  Passing the plum tree we could see some bee activity where the Andrena flavipes is nesting.  I was wondering if she would come back!

13 April 2014

13 March 2014

I’ve already posted about Andrena cineraria in my post It’s in black and white and I took those pictures in the middle of April last year.

I saw several flying low around the grass and one quickly popped down a hole and once inside closed it over by moving the crumbly soil from the sides of the pile over the entrance.  A bit like closing the bedroom curtains in the evening.

Andrena cineraria male 13.3.14

I followed one patiently who seemed to be having difficulty finding the hole.

Andrena cineraria male 13.3.14

Now it becomes clearer.  This is the male Andrena cineraria.  He was still on the search for an unmated female.  The female only mates once and then becomes unreceptive and goes about nest building and egg laying.  The male’s function is to find a female and mate, not for him the task of burrowing tunnels.

Andrena cineraria male 13.3.14

This side shot shows up the difference between the male and the female.  The male is only very slightly smaller than the female but has more white hair.  There are white hairs present on his thorax and tufts of white hair at the top of his femurs.  He has larger tuft of white hair on his head than the female.

This is the first time I have seen the Andrena cineraria male.  I thought the female was beautiful but I think he might be even cuter.

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6 thoughts on “Under the plum tree again

  1. I saw A. cineraria a couple of days ago too. Our O. cornuta have been flying for less than a week. I’m not seeing much solitary bee activity at all, although bumbles are increasing (a lot of worryingly small sized queens though). Honey bee activity has been high all month.

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    • I have seen no O.cornuta although I was checking my nests but I am now in the UK. Are you sure the small size queens are not workers from early nests? I have had huge queens around. The B. pratorum queens are always considerably smaller though. I think I am seeing lots of terrestris and beautiful muscorum queens.

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  2. While cutting the grass we saw dozens of black & white bees in a 10ft square area. Busy, either fighting or mating! They kept going into the ground and coming out again. Were they ashy mining bees and what were they doing? Will they stay? The foraging photographer is my daughter and she suggested we ask you about them! Thank you so much!

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    • It certainly sounds as if you have got ashy mining bees. Lucky you! They are nesting and once the mining bees have found a suitable nesting site they seem to come back year after year. They have hatched out and are now digging their tunnels and laying down their eggs with pollen and nectar to provide you with another marvellous spectacle next year. Amelia

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      • Thank you Amelia. They are still very busy and we will look forward to seeing them again next year. Lucy’s daughter, Thea, will be staying with us for Easter and, knowing her, will be fascinated by them!

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