First solitary bee of 2021 (not counting bumbles)

That’s not a honey bee!

I was watching idly yesterday (16 February 2021) while the honeybees were feasting on the winter flowering heather. The bee in question was the same size as our honeybees but looking at it closely it was most definitely not a honeybee.

I was very impressed that it was my husband that spotted the bee as I am the one that is more interested in the solitary bees.

I thought he was very handsome and his long antenna made me think he was a male.

Just as I was thinking that you could never be sure – another bee arrived and he leapt on top of her – which settled the question. She was larger and after a few brief couplings they both flew off. He was much more gentle than some of the very aggressive males, perhaps there was no competition around.

I desperately tried to get some good photographs of the female but with no luck. This is the best and the orange tibia hairs leave more questions than answers.

The identity of the bee has been solved by El Gritche! He has commented on my blog A French Garden and says they are Colletes and probably succinctus! So kind of him to leave a comment! I should have thought about Colletes on heather.

I did not get a good shot of the wing venation but I think they are Andrena. I checked and there are 65 species of Andrena in the U.K. (probably more in France.) So with so little information I can give no identification.

It was a lovely moment though just watching them!

7 thoughts on “First solitary bee of 2021 (not counting bumbles)

  1. Pingback: Bees in the heather | a french garden

    • I was hoping you might come up with a good idea :). The “praecox” should have got me thinking. It looks the best idea I have seen. I’ve looked at Falk and the video. Only the size makes me wonder. He was nearly as big as a honey bee – this is not evident in a photograph. She, as you can see, was much bigger. Do you think it could be “apicata”? Amelia

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