Join Adrian Knowles, bee & wasp expert on this fascinating day. Adrian is the Suffolk county recorder for bees, wasps & ants. You will learn about the ecology & lifecycle of solitary bees & wasps, nest sites, artificial nest boxes and pollinator-friendly plants. There are some 200 species of wild bees in the UK, called solitary bees because they make individual nest cells for their larvae. Some species nest in tunnels or holes in the ground, sandy banks and crumbling mortar while others use the hollow stems of dead plants such as bramble.
First recorded on the British mainland from SE London in 2016.
Information on nesting biology (Palaearctic Osmiine Bees) here
A widespread species across southern, eastern and central Europe and north Africa, north to 60 degrees, and eastwards to central Asia (Müller, A., 2016).
Status (in Britain only):
New to Britain in 2016. Specimens were found (including females with pollen loads) at the Greenwich Peninsula Ecology Park (London) in early June 2016 (Notton, Tang & Day, 2016)
Not included in any current UK keys. However, continental works that cover the identification include Amiet et al. (2004); Banaszak and Romasenko (2001)
Found in a range of dry habitats which have an abundance of suitable nest sites: gravel pits, derelict vineyard terraces, man made habitats (eg botanic gardens) and dry warm waste places (Westrich, 1989), temperate grasslands and forests (or forest edge) (Lhomme, P. 2014).
A univoltine species. Mid June to the end of July. In favourable years the species can persist into September. The British specimens were found from mid-June to the end of July.
Strongly oligolectic on Echium species (Boraginaceae)(Müller, A., unpublished, based on 29 pollen samples from 19 different localities and on field observations). Ivanov et al (2005) state that the species is monolectic on Echium, which is clearly an error of understanding.
The species nests in existing cavities in old beetle galleries in dead wood,empty snail shells, in hollow plant stems, and in old nest burrows of various aculeates (Colletes, Megachile parietina, Anthophora, Odynerus) and in the old cocoons of Osmia mustelina. The species readily takes to artificial nest sites, such as cut bamboo stems, and wood borings and the British specimens were seen at drilled wooden nesting blocks. The thick cell partitions and the nest closure are made of earth, sand and clay cemented together with saliva. (Westrich, 1989). The nesting cell partitions and nest plug made of mud. The outer surface of the nest plug is often covered with wood fibres, sand, dust etc. (Westrich, 1989).
Watching Ancistrocerus wasps nest-making in my garden bee-hotel over recent years, I had assumed that they collected mud from damp areas (in a similar way to Osmia bicornis). Last year, I was able to follow a wasp from the bee-hotel to its "collecting point" and saw that it was collecting dry soil particles. This year I witnessed the same thing, with an Ancistrocerus wasp repeatedly returning to the same point. I was able to get a series of photographs from one visit showing her collecting individual soil granules (the soil was bone dry) and then flying off with a wet mud-ball.
With the launch of the NBN's Living Atlas and the closure of the NBN Gateway maps, currently it is not possible to display maps from NBN data. We hope this will soon be resolved and maps restored to the species accounts. Please be patient - we have around 900,000 records to upload, so the wait will be worth it!
I am a scientist working on the biological control of invasive social wasps in New Zealand. Using molecular techniques we have been able to trace the origins of one of the species, Vespula vulgaris, to the southern third of England (from Cambridge south).