Cacoxenus indagator (garden)

“Cocoxenus indagator, a ‘fruit fly’ that starves some solitary bees to death

You may see these little ‘fruit flies’ around your red mason bee nest boxes. This feeble flying insect is no fruit fly as a larva. It is a cleptoparasite . They are opportunists and literally hang around watching and waiting. They are looking to sneak into an empty cell, check it out to see if any pollen has been stored. If it has, she will quickly lay some eggs and leave pretty pronto before the host bee returns. The resulting larvae eat the pollen store and in many cases if there are simply too many of them, the bee larva will starve, usually to death. You can find up to ten larvae in one cell.”

Interesting to find it in a Blue mason bee nest

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Nomada ferruginata (specimen) Lode

SONY DSC

Description
This Nomada bee has a red abdomen with yellow flashes at the sides. It has dull yellow legs with dark femora. It lacks stripes on the thorax and has a pair of bright yellow tubercles on the pronotum near to the wing bases.
Similar Species
Nomada ferruginata is similar to N. striata but it can be distinguished by the brighter yellow pronotal tubercles and lighter antennae. N. ferruginata also lacks the red marks on the mesonotum which are usually obvious on N. striata.
Habitat
Low vegetation around dry soils where its host bee nests.
When to see it
Mainly during March and April – to coincide with the breeding of its host bee Andrena praecox.
Life History
As with all Nomada bees, it is parasitic on solitary bees, usualy Andrena species. The host species of N. ferruginata is Andrena praecox. A.praecox is a rather uncommon mining bee and normally found in areas containing sufficient Willows as females are very dependent on Willow catkins for pollen in March and April.
UK Status
Rare in England but may be increasing.

Osmia Bicolor (Lode)

I have posted information on this bee before , I hadn’t seen one until the other week now I’m finding them everywhere. I was not expecting to see one here though as it is on the Fen side of Cambridge which is not the chalky grass lands they like , its more old railway embankment surrounded by miles of either rapeseed, broadbean or wheat fields. Anyway its a good sign and another record for the distribution map.

Osmia caerulescens (garden)

Description
Length 8 to 10 mm. The females have a blue metallic lustre to the abdomen giving rise to its common name, with black pollen-collecting hairs underneath. The males are bronze with pale yellow hairs and a shining slope at the front of the abdomen that distinguishes this species from other bees.
Habitat
Forest edges and clearings, flower meadows, orchards, parks and gardens.
When to see it
April to August/September.
Life History
Nests in holes, often existing cavities in dead wood and plant stems, rocks and mud walls. The female deposits her egg, adds food for the larvae, builds a small wall out of chewed leaves and creates the next chamber, where she will deposit the next egg.
UK Status
Widespread in England and Wales, but not usually occurring in great numbers, though more common in the south…. Naturespot

Osmia bicolor (fleam dyke)

Probably the bee highlight of the year

The males of this species are among the first of the solitary bees to appear in the spring, with one exceptional record as early as late February. They are shortly followed by the distinctive females.

Status (in Britain only)
Classified as a Nationally Notable (Nb) species by Falk (1991).
Habitat
Generally calcareous grassland and open deciduous woodland on chalk and limestone soils.
Flight period
Univoltine; April to early July. The males are very short-lived in comparison with the females.
Nesting biology
Females establish their nests in empty snail shells, including those of Helix pomatia, Cepaea nemoralis, C. hortensis and Monacha cantiana. Nests contain about four or five cells, depending on the size of shell used. Cell partitions and the closing plug consist of leaf mastic (i.e. masticated portions of green leaf). The space between the last cell partition and the closing plug is filled with a rubble containing very small snail shells and pieces of chalk, or soil. When the nest is completed the female covers the shell with a mound of dead grass stems, beech scales or leaf fragments (Perkins, 1884, 1891; G R Else, pers. obs.). The reason for this behaviour is not known, but it may camouflage the nest from possible parasites and predators at a time when it may be vulnerable to such attack….BWARS

Osmia Bicolor (Male) Fleam Dyke

Highlight of my day

Distribution
Distributed predominantly in southern England and south Wales, the range being closely correlated with chalk and limestone soils. This is a predominantly central European species, becoming rare and sporadic north of Belgium. The Palaearctic range extends from southern Finland (one record only (Elfving, 1968)) to Spain, and east to the former Yugoslavia and Romania. Stoeckhert (1933) records the species from central Asia and reports that both there and in southern Europe it is largely restricted to montane sites.
Status (in Britain only)
Classified as a Nationally Notable (Nb) species by Falk (1991).
Habitat
Generally calcareous grassland and open deciduous woodland on chalk and limestone soils.
Flight period
Univoltine; April to early July. The males are very short-lived in comparison with the females.
Nesting biology
Females establish their nests in empty snail shells, including those of Helix pomatia, Cepaea nemoralis, C. hortensis and Monacha cantiana. Nests contain about four or five cells, depending on the size of shell used. Cell partitions and the closing plug consist of leaf mastic (i.e. masticated portions of green leaf). The space between the last cell partition and the closing plug is filled with a rubble containing very small snail shells and pieces of chalk, or soil. When the nest is completed the female covers the shell with a mound of dead grass stems, beech scales or leaf fragments (Perkins, 1884, 1891; G R Else, pers. obs.). The reason for this behaviour is not known, but it may camouflage the nest from possible parasites and predators at a time when it may be vulnerable to such attack. Nests are illustrated by Geiser (1988) and Westrich (1989). Males have been found sheltering in empty snail shells during periods of inclement weather (G R Else, pers. obs.).
Flowers visited
Wood anemone (Anemone nemorosa), bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta), heath dog-violet (Viola canina), bird’s-foot-trefoil (Lotus corniculatus), horseshoe vetch (Hippocrepis comosa), sainfoin (Onobrychis viciifolia), sallow (Salix spp.), ground-ivy (Glechoma hederacea), daisy (Bellis perennis) and dandelion (Taraxacum sp.)….BWARS