Early Mining Bee

On a hot Summer's day the hedgerows and bushes are alive with life. One animal you may spot is the Early Mining Bee (Andrena haemorrhoa) also known as the Orange-tailed Mining Bee

 

HABITAT AND DISTRIBUTION

Found throughout the UK and Europe, Scandinavia and Asia, the early mining bee can be found anywhere from gardens to fields, parks and pathways; really anywhere with soil where it can makes its burrow.

 

DESCRIPTION 

Both sexes may appear similar although the male tends to be smaller and paler in colour, in fact sometimes it appears more grey/white and could be mistaken for a different species entirely. Generally the early mining bee has a dark head partially covered in pale hairs, a reddish-brown thorax fringed with pale hairs and a pointed black abdomen which becomes reddish-brown towards the end. The rear legs have enlarged hind femora (upperpart of the back legs). The overall length is around 8 -11mm. 

 

Early Mining Bee - female

DIET, BEHAVIOUR AND REPRODUCTION

This species is smaller than the average Honeybee (Apis mellifera) and probably gets overlooked frequently. The early mining bee is one of the 'solitary' bees and females normally nest alone, but can form small colonies. As far as we know they do not sting, but if they could it would be extremely weak. Curious and placid, the early mining bees just want to go about their business and are no threat, this makes it extremely easy for them to cohabit with humans. If found in the garden (particularly the lawn) they will be of no trouble and will give you a great opportunity to study them up close! Its staple food source is pollen and nectar.

 

OTHER NOTABLE FACTS

The adult pictured here is more than likely a female, some authorities report the males lack the enlarged femora and have a brownish hair to their head as opposed to white. It is one of the earliest mining bees to appear in the year (around March) and is active until July.