Andrena agilissima (Scopoli, 1770)

Description and notes

A large, robust mining bee, reminiscent of Andrena cineraria in overall appearance but in the female lacking the distinct transverse inter-alar band of that species and the hind tibia is clad with mainly white hairs, not black. The gaster of both sexes has a conspicuous blue cast; wings strongly infuscated.

Distribution

This attractive bee is absent from mainland Britain and known only from the Channel Islands, where it has been reported from Jersey, Guernsey and Alderney (though there are no recent records from the latter island). It is described as being very common in Guernsey (C David, pers. comm.).

This is a central and southern European species, ranging from Holland and Poland south to Spain, the Balearics, Sardinia, Sicily, Malta, Corsica, and east to the former Czechoslovakia. It is widely distributed in North Africa, from Morocco to Libya.

Status (in Britain only)

The Channel Islands, for a number of reasons, are excluded from the geographical coverage of the British Red Data book (Shirt, 1987). It is not considered to be scarce or threatened there.

Habitat

In Guernsey the bee is widespread but particularly so on coastal grassland, including dunes. These are sites where there is a preponderance of yellow-flowered Brassica – the main pollen and nectar sources (C David, pers. comm.).

Flight period

Univoltine; mid May to early August.

Nesting biology

Females apparently favour vertical surfaces in which to excavate their nests. There are reports of these being encountered in soft rock cliffs, steep slopes and the mortar joints of old walls (Kocourek, 1966; Westrich, 1989; C David, pers. comm.). Nests have been found as small aggregations and several females have been observed sharing a common nest entrance (Westrich 1989). The species probably overwinters as an adult in its natal cell (Stöckhert, 1933).

Flowers visited

Richards (1979) and C David (pers. comm.) report the following flower records: creeping buttercup, thrift, cabbage and radish.

Parasites

None reported from the Channel Islands. However, elsewhere in Europe, Nomada fulvicornis Fabricius has been listed as a cleptoparasite of this Andrena (Stöckhert, 1933; Westrich, 1989).

Author of profile

G R Else.

Year profile last updated

2016