Silpha laevigata- Lode

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Lasioglossum malachurum

Specimen taken and keyed

Lasioglossum malachurum

Distribution
Southern England and the Channel Islands. Formerly a scarce and very local species but, since about 1990, it has been extending its range in England and is common to locally abundant in many sites in the southern counties. Widely distributed in the western Palaearctic, its range extending from Denmark to the Azores and North Africa (Morocco), eastwards throughout central and southern Europe to Iran.
Status (in Britain only)
This species is not regarded as being scarce or threatened.
Habitat
Coastal cliffs and landslips, abandoned quarries, commons, chalk grassland and private gardens.
Flight period
Females from early April to October; males from early July to the beginning of October. G M Spooner (pers. comm.) found several active gynes on the Dorset coast in mid-February.
Nesting biology
Commonly nests in aggregations, occasionally of considerable extent, especially in exposed soil at the base of coastal cliffs and similar unstable locations where vegetation is sparse. Nest burrows are often observed in the hard trodden soil of footpaths. Sites at the top of beaches are sometimes deluged by sea water during winter storms. A well known eusocial species, its development being one of the most extensively documented of any Palaearctic halictine species. Important references include Stoeckhert (1923), Legewie (1925), Noll (1931), Bonelli (1948), Michener (1974) and Westrich (1989). The worker is smaller than the gyne and was originally described as a distinct species, Halictus longulus Smith, 1848.
Flowers visited
Includes cinquefoil (Potentilla spp.), colt’s-foot (Tussilago farfara), common fleabane (Pulicaria dysenterica), creeping thistle (Cirsium arvense), dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), field bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis), hawkweed (Hieraceum spp.), mayweed (Tripleurospermum spp.), oxtongue (Picris echioides), stonecrop (Sedum spp.) and wild parsnip (Pastinacea sativa).
Parasites
L Packer (pers. comm.) has excavated the cleptoparasite, Sphecodes monilicornis (Kirby) and larvae of the oil beetle Meloe proscarabaeus Linnaeus from nest burrows of this bee on the Isle of Wight.

Halictus rubicundus – Lode

Description and notes
One of the largest British halictine bees with a body length often over 10 mm. It is a distinctive bee with strong white pubescent bands on the apices of the abdominal segments and yellow-orange legs in both sexes.

Distribution
Widely distributed throughout Britain and known from Ireland (Antrim). It is rarely abundant at any one locality in the south, but is frequently encountered in dense nesting aggregations in northern Britain. The species occurs in both the Palaearctic and the Nearctic regions, where it is largely confined to temperate habitats.
Status (in Britain only)
This bee is not regarded as being scarce or threatened.
Habitat
Often present in a wide variety of habitats. Nests are usually made in areas of vertical or sloping bare ground with a southern aspect (Potts & Wilmer 1998). No other habitat limitations known.
Flight period
The species is eusocial, with queens emerging from hibernation in April, workers present from May onwards and males and new females from July to early October. There have been suggestions that two generations of sexuals are produced in some years (G M Spooner, pers. comm.).
Nesting biology
Nests are made in the ground and may be single or in aggregations. Individual nests support a small eusocial population, founded by a mated queen in the spring. This queen rears a small number of workers and then the colony produces new males and females at the end of the summer.
Flowers visited
The bee may be found visiting a wide range of flower species, but is probably most often found at those of the Asteraceae.
Parasites
Two cleptoparasitic bees attack this species: Sphecodes gibbus and S. monilicornis. It is also recorded as being attacked by the conopid fly Zodion cinereum (K G V Smith 1969).

Andrena helvola- Lode

New species to me.

Distribution
This species is widely distributed in England and the south coast of Wales. There are several modern records from Scotland and it should be sought elsewhere in this country. It is unknown from Ireland.
It is widely distributed in Europe.
Status (in Britain only)
This species is not regarded as being scarce or threatened.
Habitat
Most often found in deciduous woodland on a variety of soil types.
Flight period
April to June.
Nesting biology
A solitarily nesting species.
Flowers visited
A wide variety of flowers are visited, perhaps more often the following: wood spurge, field maple, hawthorn and holly.
Parasites
Nomada panzeri Lepeletier has been recorded as a cleptoparasite. Stylopised males have
been found on several occasions (G R Else and M Edwards, pers. obs).

Lasioglossum xanthopus- Lode

Another new species to me

Distribution
Very local but widely distributed in southern Britain, the range extending northwards to Nottinghamshire (Carr, 1935) and South Lincolnshire. In Wales, known only from Glamorgan. Also reported from Guernsey and the Channel Islands. There are no records from Ireland. Widespread in the Palaearctic, from southern Sweden south to Morocco, and eastwards to Israel, Pakistan and Mongolia (Ebmer, 1988).
Status (in Britain only)
Classified by Falk (1991) as a Notable B species [now known as Nationally Scarce (Nb)].
Habitat
Mainly encountered on calcareous grassland, coastal landslips and cliffs.
Flight period
Females are active from early April to at least August. Males emerge later than those of most other British halictines, being found from August to mid October, with a peak in late September. As a result, this sex is not represented in most collections as collectors have generally terminated their field work before the males appear. Interestingly, on April 8th, 1993, both sexes were found commonly at Tizi ‘n Tichka, one of the passes (2100m.) in the Moroccan High Atlas (G R Else and S P M Roberts, pers. obs.). The ground there is often covered by snow earlier in the spring. It would seem that the males overwinter as adults in this site, a habit unknown in northern Europe.
Nesting biology
Nest burrows are rarely found, suggesting they often occur singly and are obscured by low vegetation. However, a huge, extended aggregation of about a thousand burrows was observed recently along about a half mile of the cutting of an abandoned railway line at Reach, Devils Dyke, in Cambridgeshire (J P Field, pers. comm.). The bee is presumed, on available evidence, to be a solitary species, rather than a eusocial one.
Flowers visited
Sea campion (Silene uniflora), bramble (Rubus fruticosus agg.), blackthorn (Prunus spinosa), clover (Trifolium sp.), ground-ivy (Glechoma hederacea), knapweed (Centaurea spp.) and dandelion (Taraxacum officinale). Males have been collected from knapweed and field scabious (Knautia arvensis).
Parasites
The bee Sphecodes spinulosus has been recorded as a cleptoparasite of this bee (Perkins, 1923, 1924; Hallett, 1928). Gigantic specimens of S. monilicornis have been observed at the burrows of L. xanthopus (Hallett, 1928). Specimens are rarely stylopized, the parasite being Halictoxenus arnoldi …. BWARS

Nomada ferruginata – Lode- Rare

This is a rare species with scattered records as far north as the Midlands and north Norfolk. It attacks Andrena praecox and flies at the same time (usually April when the pussy-willow is in blossom).

Status (in Britain only)
Listed as Endangered (RDB1) in the British Red Data Book (Shirt 1987) and by Falk (1991). Recent data suggests this status needs revision
Habitat
Sites include open deciduous woodland, the coast (as at Dungeness, east Kent) and open sites where the host species occurs.
Flight period
Univoltine; mid April (exceptionally March) to mid May.
Nesting biology
A cleptoparasite of the mining bee Andrena praecox (Perkins 1919; Chambers 1949; Westrich 1989). It is only found with a small number of populations of this host species. Chambers (1949) also lists Andrena varians as a possible host.
Flowers visited
Lesser celandine (Ranunculus ficaria), black currant (Ribes nigrum), sallow (Salix sp.) and dandelion (Taraxacum sp.).