Andrena agilissima colony

Andrena agilissima colony

Last May I saw Andrena agillisima for the first time (See my blog Andrena agillisima).  Now I have discovered a nesting place at the bottom of my garden.

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Some years ago a large Poplar tree fell down in a storm.  The tree was cut up and used for the fire in due course but the root was left as it had fallen in a part of the garden that was very overgrown at that time.  It has formed a very large well-drained mound and this year I spotted the holes and the Andrena agilissima.

However, despite seeing them flying too and fro, I have not been able to get a photograph very easily, as they do not hang about. However, my patience has been rewarded.

1.Andrena agilissima at entrance

I at last managed to get a shot of the black and white head surveying the world from the security of her burrow.

2.Antenna appears

Then I noticed another antenna appear.

3.Second antenna

Then a pair of antennas appeared.

5.Squeeze out

The second bee pushed herself under the first in her wish to exit the common hole.

6.Wings spread

I had not realised that the Andrena agillissima would share the entrance holes to the colony but inside she will build her own capsule for her egg to pass through the larval stages and overwinter as an adult.

The first bee only hesitated a few seconds before joining the second to search for flowers.  She shouldn’t have had far to go if she wanted to try my sprout plants which are flowering specially for her.  You can see her take flight in the slideshow below.

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Andrena agilissima, a bee that likes cabbage flowers

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.