A very early bee

Andrena 26.1.2016

We were out walking on Tuesday 26 January 2016, it was nearly five o’clock in the afternoon and I had not bothered to take my camera along.  Nevertheless, I can’t help keeping my eyes on dandelions, checking for bumble bees, but instead I spotted a solitary bee: an Andrena on a dandelion.  My husband came to my rescue and took a photograph for me.

I think it is an Andrena haemorrhoa – its common name being the Early Mining Bee but by early in the U.K. they mean you can see it usually starting in March.  I felt rather sorry for it as it was not moving but sheltering in the dandelion for warmth.

The exceptionally mild weather with temperatures peaking up to seventeen degrees centigrade with sunshine has obviously woken some wild bees from their winter dormancy.  Luckily the flowers are being fooled too but I hope she has enough strength to make it back to her tunnel.


15 thoughts on “A very early bee

  1. I hope this year I make some headway or at least a start in learning to identify solitary bees. She or he looks glad of the dandelion Amelia, its just as well we have some early obliging flowers. Could this be a male or female or like Bumbles just a female at this time of year? I’m fairly sure I caught sight but not close up of an early Bumblebee presumably a Queen on one of our Ivies today.


    • She looks like a female to me, she would have to mate with a male but this could be even in the nest with some mining bees but I don’t know what these ones might do. It is raining again over here so she is really too early. Amelia


  2. There are lots of bees still flying here, the Rosemary, Teucrium and a few early bulbs are providing some nectar but I wonder if it is enough. I’ve mentioned before that I don’t think Carpenter bees hibernate at all here, there is hardly a day when I don’t see one or two.


  3. Queen bumble bees are reputed to hibernate in shady spots so not to be awoken prematurely by winter sunshine. I think this mining bee needed to be buried deeper in the soil, but our overnight lows have been high too. I am just going out to check on our old willow (salix caprea I think) as the pussy willows are just starting to break open. Amelia


  4. This is a bit of a surprise. Do you think temperature is the only determinant of emergence time. I must admit to being confused about this, for example why do ivy bees wait until autumn to emerge, do they perhaps have some kind of clock which tells them when to come out?


    • I had just assumed as they develop and remain underground, away from daylight changes, that it must be temperature that brings them out. I think most of them develop on their food stores as larvae and stay as the imago but I do not know if there is a “timed” stage to the imago. I got “Field Guide to the Bees of Great Britain and Ireland” by Steven Falk for my Christmas – but shame on me, I have not got into it yet. Amelia


  5. We’ve had the big Carpenter Bees out, here, when it has been sunny… last sightings 23rd, 24th and 25th… of January!?
    Wall lizard too!
    And I managed to photograph a Pipistrelle hunting outside the backdoor on the 1st of Feb…
    not this morning, tho’…. fffffffrosty!!
    Faune Touraine now has Hymenoptera that can be reported… just seven of the zillions species… but it includes Ivy Bee and three of the Carpenters [only identifiable if you swat them!]… and your favourite insect to swat… Asian Hornet.
    I have no doubt there will be others added…


  6. Thanks for that Stephen. I wonder if there are different colours here as well as species. For example, I have never seen a black female Anthophora plumipes – they are all the light variation. Do you know of other Andrena that might be early too? I have checked out your female and she has very distinctive rusty coloured hairs on her upper thorax. Amelia


  7. Dear Amelia,

    while searching the internet for a coccoo bee names Epeolus fallax I found your site with lots of nice photos of bees found in your garden.On one of your sites you show an image of the bee in question and I would like to ask you if you can give me the name of the town/village where you have taken the photo. I have discovered this bee species in Germany for the first time last September and I am preparing a paper about the observation. You can find more on that on this page http://www.wildbienen.info/forschung/beobachtung20160911.php
    unfortuantely in German.
    I have read that you like Stephen Falk’s fiels guide. I also like it very much and recommed it to people being interested in wild bees.
    Best wishes


    • I think the photograph you might be referring to came from the post La bourgade revisited

      This was when I saw what I took to be Epeolus fallax prospecting a large colony of Colletes hedera. The colony is still in existence and I see it every year. I have often seen what I take to be Epeolus fallax in my garden which is within walking distance of the colony. We live in Virollet in the Charente Maritime. Please contact me again if you require any further details. Amelia


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