Andrena agilissima, a bee that likes cabbage flowers

Male Andrena agilissima

A slightly inaccurate title;  Andrena agilissima is an oligolectic bee gathering pollen from brassicacaea species.

I let my salad leaves left over from the autumn overgrow and produce flowers.  One particular plant produced very large leaves and tall bright yellow flowers.

Male Andrena agilissima

On the 3.5.14 I saw a bee on the flowers that I had never seen before.

Andrena agilissima

It was a male bee and so was not gathering pollen but the smoky wings and the white hairs made me think of Andrena agilissima.

A.agilissima blue tint

On the 8.5.14 I was able to get some photographs of a female.  The abdomen is smooth and shiny with a metallic, blue tinge and she has once again the smoky wings.

Front female A. agilissima

The tufts of white hairs on the sides of the eyes and on the sides of the thorax and the last abdominal tergites are distinctive.

Side A. agilissima

These are mining bees but they nest in communes that can have multiple entrances to a complex of tunnels used by several females.  Each female bee will have its own brood cells to lay down its eggs.  So a not totally solitary, solitary bee.

They would be very welcome to construct a commune in my garden but so far they have not been frequent visitors.

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10 thoughts on “Andrena agilissima, a bee that likes cabbage flowers

  1. Amazing images Amelia. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this bee in my garden. It is interesting that almost all gardens one visits in England now have bee hotels, the bird sacturary at Minsmere had several too. people are becoming more bee concious. Christina

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  2. You’ve got to have the sharpest eyesight of all, Amelia. If I would have seen that bee, I would have said it was a wasp, especially after seeing the long wing in the third photo. And how DID you get those photos? It looks like the bee was posing for you. I’ve never had a bee stay in one place very long.

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    • To make a bee pose you catch it, put it in the fridge for 5 minutes, when it gets sleepy you put it on the garden table in the sunshine on a white paper. You then have to be very quick to get your photographs before it flies off. It is not cruel to put it in the fridge as the fridge will be about 4 degrees Centigrade which is what an overnight temperature in the spring could be. Amelia

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  3. Very interesting and informative! I am not aware of ever having seen one but then we dont have any of the correct flowers near here. I wonder what it is in the brassica flowers that they like?

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    • They might be attracted to rape and wallflowers as they are in the right grouping. It is interesting why some bees are so specific and others wide in their choice of flowers. A lot of bumble bees around here gather on most flowers and gather from first light till dusk and at lower temperatures than any of the other bees. Seems it would be a better strategy to survive than being fussy. Amelia

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  4. Pingback: Andrena agilissima colony | Bees in a French Garden

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