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.
Four new species of Sphecodes bees to add to the record on the lode-hornigsea field system.
- Sphecodes rubicundus
- Sphecodes ephippius
- Sphecodes geoffrellus
- Sphecodes longulus (which is tiny only a few mm long)
- Already recorded is Sphecodes monilicornis
New species for me
Mainly confined to southern England, with a few records from further north. Not known from Scotland, Ireland or the Channel Islands. A local mining bee but sometimes abundant where found. A western Palaearctic species, the range extending from Britain to the Urals, and central Iberia to Iran.
Status (in Britain only)
This species is not regarded as being scarce or threatened.
Particularly associated with calcareous grassland; occasionally open woodland on chalk, wooded heathland and fenland.
Females from mid April to late September; males early July to September.
Nesting habits are apparently largely unknown. In Germany, the species is stated to be “solitary” (i.e. non-social) (Westrich 1989).
Lesser celandine (Ranunculus ficaria), broom (Cytisus scoparius), plum (Prunus domestica), wild parsnip (Pastinaca sativa), wild carrot (Daucus carota), willow (Salix species), speedwell (Veronica species), guelder-rose (Viburnum opulus), tormentil (Potentilla erecta) and ragwort (Senecio species).
The commonest of our four small, metallic-green/torquiose Lasioglossum species. Both sexes are most easily distinguished from the others by the densely punctate, dull scutum which has obvious microsculpture between the punctures. Some females of L.leucopus can difficult to separate, but morio has a duller thorax, duller hind margins to the upper part of the propodeum, and minute transverse ridges on the apical depression of tergite 2.
This is a widespread and often abundant species found in a wide range of habitats, where it exploits various flowers. It can sometimes be found nesting in the soft mortar walls.
It is a host of the cleptoparastic bee Sphecodes niger and possibly S. geoffrellus and Nomada sheppardana; also the conopid fly Thecophora atra.
(not my photo the bee is so small and flighty I failed to get a photo a specimen was caught and keyed)
Historically this was a scarce species of southern England but it has shown a substantial increase in the 21st century, expanding its range over much of central England. It occurs in a wide range of dry habitats but perhaps especially calcareous grasslands and brownfield sites. Various flowers and spring blossoms are visited. A possible host of Sphecodes crassus and S. ferruginatus.