I had always thought the Osmia cornuta males had to wait several weeks before the females appeared. So I was very surprised to see the first female Osmia cornuta, yesterday, the 4 February 2021. That is exactly one week after I saw the first male Osmia emerge.
She was actually on the ground in the tight embrace of a male Osmia cornuta when I noticed her.
With the digital camera you have no need to take a note of the time you take the photograph so I had a good record of how long she remained subjugated. It looked fairly consensual if you accept the fact that the male had her wings tightly gripped closed. She was able to walk with her burden up a shooting clematis. She is much larger than the male and I think she could have manage to release herself had she chosen.
They were just under the bee box which was being patrolled by the usual bunch of hopeful males. The other males eventually spotted the female and tried some dive bomb tactics to dislodge their rival.
Interesting as it all was, I had to leave them at it and go in for lunch. The last photograph I took of them was still on the Clematis after 52 minutes of togetherness.
I have better photographs of the female on an old blog “A good spring for Osmia cornuta”.
I will now have to see if she chooses my boxes to make her nest.