Macropis europaea (Yellow-loosestrife bee)

This medium-sized bee has a shiny black body with white hair bands on the apical tergites, two submarginal cells and very characteristic hind legs in both sexes. Those of the female have an entirely white-haired hind tibia that contrasts with the very broadened, black-haired basitarsus. The male hind legs are less hairy but very swollen. Males have yellow faces.

M. europaea is a wetland specialist usually found in fen, open carr, reedbeds, ditches and water margins where its pollen source, Yellow Loosestrife, is present. It collects both the pollen and floral oils of this plant, and uses the oils to waterproof its nests, which are often constructed along paths and banks that become seasonally flooded. It will also visit a variety of other flowers growing in and around wetlands for nectar e.g. thistles, bramble and bird’s-foot trefoils. Adults fly from July until early September.

Records are almost entirely confined to south-east England from Dorset to Norfolk.

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Hoplitis claviventris – Cherry Hinton Chalkpit

Hoplitis claviventris having a rest on my pooter.

Hoplitis claviventris

Distribution
Widely distributed but usually uncommon throughout much of southern England and in south Wales (where it is largely coastal); much more sporadic in the Midlands, East Anglia and northern England. There are no records from Scotland, Ireland or the Channel Islands. Widely distributed throughout much of Europe, from Fennoscandia south to central Iberia, Corsica, Sardinia, and eastwards to Greece and Russia.
Status (in Britain only)
This is classified as a Nationally Notable (Nb) species (Falk, 1991).
Habitat
The species has been recorded from a wide range of habitats, including, for example, open broad-leaved woodland, heathland edge, chalk grassland and the coast.
Flight period
Univoltine; late May to late August (rarely September).
Nesting biology
Many nests of this bee have been found in dead stems, where the females had excavated the pith to form nesting burrows. Such stems included bramble, rose and ragwort. A nest has even been found in a buried bramble stem (Perkins, 1886). Other nest sites have been a buried, decaying root (Perkins, 1923); burrows in an old paling (Arnold, 1903); a burrow in the soil (Saunders, 1896); a small piece of dead pine branch lying on the ground (M Edwards, pers. comm.); and, on the Continent, an empty gall of the chloropid fly Lipara lucens on a reed stem (Blüthgen, 1919). The cells are separated from one another by partitions of leaf mastic, which is green when freshly made but later assumes a brownish-black colour. The inner surface of the nest burrow, rather than a layer of leaf mastic, forms the side walls of the cells. When full grown the larvae spin thin, semi-transparent silken cocoons in which the winter is passed; pupation takes place in the spring.
Flowers visited
Buttercup, red clover, bird’s-foot-trefoil, horseshoe vetch, heaths, field scabious, hawk’s-beard and dandelion.
Parasites
The cleptoparasitic megachiline bee Stelis ornatula has been reared on several occasions from British nests of H. claviventris. The ichneumon wasp Hoplocryptus bellosus has also been reared in this country from stem-nests of the Hoplitis (Danks, 1971, as H. signatorius).

Megachile ligniseca – Fulbourn Fen

 

Description and notes
One of a suite of eight superficially similar species. All are medium-sized to large solitary bees nesting in holes, largely in various forms of timber either in standing deadwood or fence posts.

Distribution
An uncommon species more frequently found in the south-east of mainland Britain. It has a more scattered distribution further north, seemingly reaching its extremity in north Yorkshire and two recent records from Staffordshire. There is also a cluster of records from south Wales though apparently absent from north Wales. Also recorded from Ireland but apparently absent from the Channel Islands. Occurs in western and central Europe, also in Finland and parts of European Russia.
Status (in Britain only)
This species is not regarded as being scarce or threatened.
Habitat
Since it is a species that utilises bramble, thistles and Himalayan balsam it is likely to be found at ruderal-dominated sites. It has also been found on post-industrial sites where it was recorded feeding on Himalayan balsam and found frequently flying about standing deadwood and bramble thickets.
Flight period
This is a summer-flying species with early records from mid-June to as late as early September. The majority of records however fall between early July and mid-August.
Nesting biology
Nests are most frequently encountered in timber such as old trees and fence posts. One nest has been found in an iron tube. The nesting holes are typically of a large diameter and the cells constructed of sycamore leaves. It is surmised that other plant species are used though no evidence of this has been recorded to date.
Flowers visited
It is known to visit thistles and bramble and has also been observed visiting Himalayan balsam (pers. obs.) though no information was obtained on whether this was for nectar or pollen.
Parasites
There is no information on any parasites, though it should be assumed that M. ligniseca does have a parasite and that it is highly likely to be a Coelioxys in parallel with other Megachile species.

Megachile versicolor – Fulbourn Fen

Description and notes
An identification key is available (Else, 1999). Females from the British mainland have the scopal hairs on sterna 5-6 black. Those from the Isle of Man and from Ireland have them extensively golden red, although the black form has been seen in Ireland too.

Distribution
Recorded from southern England northwards to the coast of south-west Scotland. The majority of records are from south-east England along the south coast and up to Bristol. Also recorded from Ireland but apparently absent from the Channel Islands.
Distributed throughout much of western and central Europe, Lithuania and Finland.
Status (in Britain only)
This species is not regarded as being scarce or threatened.
Habitat
Found in a variety of habitats from heathland to brownfield sites and formal gardens to ruderal verge habitats.
Flight period
This species in on the wing from June through to September with a large proportion of records in July.
Nesting biology
Tree trunks, dead plant stems (including bramble), and roofing timbers are all noted as providing suitable locations for nests (Else, 1999).
Flowers visited
Bird’s-foot-trefoil, thistles and bramble are noted as being visited by this species.
Parasites
Coelioxys inermis (Kirby) has been recorded as a cleptoparasite. The pteromalid wasp
Pteromalus apum (Retzius) has been reared from this species (G R Else, pers comm.)

Andrena trimmerana- Fulborn Fen

Possibly a county first

Description and notes
This mining bee has both a spring and a summer brood. These differ morphologically, especially in the male (for example, first brood specimens have a strong, conspicuous genal spine which is lacking in summer brood individuals of this sex). In addition, second brood specimens are often more extensively marked with red on the basal tergites and sternites than their spring counterparts. It is possible that these broods are actually distinct species and research, involving the cytogenetics of each brood, is still ongoing. Indeed, the first brood was formerly considered to be a separate species, Andrena spinigera

Status (in Britain only)
This species is not regarded as being scarce or threatened.
Habitat
Generally distributed, having been recorded from coastal landslips and cliffs and, inland, from heaths, open woodland, chalk grassland, fens, commons and gardens.
Flight period
Bivoltine; mid March to the end of April, and again from July to late September.
Nesting biology
The species apparently nests singly, not in aggregations (Kocourek, 1966; Dylewska, 1987). In England, nests have been found in banks, slopes and bare vertical soil (e.g. Beavis, 2007). Communal nesting, as occurs in its close relatives, Andrena carantonica Pérez and A. bucephala Stephens, has not been confirmed for A. trimmerana.
Flowers visited
It has been recorded from a buttercup, willows, bramble, rhododendron, blackthorn, gorse, alexanders and dandelion.
Parasites
Nomada marshamella (Kirby) has been reported as a cleptoparasite of A. trimmerana (Perkins, 1919). Occasionally specimens are found which are stylopised, apparently by Stylops aterrimus Newport (Kinzelbach, 19