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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

28 March, 2011

Mining Bee (Andrena haemorrhoa)

For the amateur naturalist the extent of ones knowledge is going be restricted by the quality of ones reference material which is usually going to be a field guide. I have looked for years for a top quality field guide to insects but have yet to find one so inevitably I find and photograph a number of insects I never identify.

At the moment we have a number of these small bees in the garden. Less than half an inch long they fly around almost continuously, perching only briefly on a leaf before launching off again.

I believe this to be a 'mining bee'; one that nests under ground and you often see little 'volcanoes' on sandy soils from which they have emerged or where they intend to lay their eggs.

I can find no such mounds in our garden as yet but then, if this is the species I think it might be, they appear to be nearly all males.

Andrena haemorrhoa in one of the very early species of mining bee to appear, March and April are their peak months. They are very partial to dandelions and blackthorn blossom. The females have quite a brownish-red back, the male is duller as in this photo. The male also has a yellow tip to its abdomen which one can just make out in this photo.

So, from the limited information at my disposal I am putting this down as Andrena haemorrhoa but if I am wrong I would be really grateful if someone can enlighten me. Thanks.