The Early Mining Bee is the first solitary bee I ever took note of. I spotted one pottering around on the garden table a couple of years ago and didn’t know what this charming little creature could be. Luckily it happened to be one of the most easily identifiable mining bees – subsequent efforts at identification have been a rather more mixed success but I do have a soft spot for this one.
The Early Mining Bee – Andrena haemorrhoa in the latin – is one of the larger mining bees and nests solitarily, although there may be loose aggregations of nesting females where the habitat is suitable.
I spotted this one searching for its nesting hole in our back garden before disappearing down the tiny, perfectly round hole. A few moments later, when my elbows and knees were already getting sore, it popped back out. It pauses a moment, has a preen, seems slightly startled by a Chocolate Mining Bee (Andrena scotica) which was buzzing around above it, and then hops out and flies back away. I often see these holes, and it was a real treat to actually watch the bee emerge.
The Early Mining Bee is common across the UK, and are fairly generalist in terms of the flower species they visit which makes them well suited to our gardens where they are regularly seen foraging and nesting.
You can read more about mining bees, and what takes place below the ground, in Brigit Strawbridge’s excellent blog post on the subject here.