Beeing in the Garden

Yesterday I spent much of the day beeing in the garden, by which I mean looking for and at the many types of bees that make their way into the garden. I do get a few honey-bees but not many and this is actually a good thing fro all the other species of bees, many of which can find themselves getting out-competed by large numbers of hive bees in some areas.

There a lot of solitary bees, something well over 200 species in the UK in fact¬† and spring is a good time to look for them. Although they are solitary, in that each female has her own nest, there can be lots of nests very close together, so you might find a nesting aggregation of hundreds of solitary bees, sometimes of several different species. Lots of them nest in tunnels in the ground, so a good place to look is where the ground is loose enough for a bee to dig a tunnel, old sand pits are a favourite. Several other species nest in hollow stems or old beetle tunnels in wood, so you can mimic this by drilling holes in a block of wood and making a “bee hotel”.

One of the common spring species is the tawny mining bee.

tawny mining bee

tawny mining bee

Some species are very, very small, in fact some are known as “mini-miners”. Others are tiny and brightly coloured like the “Blood bees” these are rather difficult to identify to species level.

blood bee 2

blood bee

Others are more familiar and much larger, the bumble bees, although there are rather few species they are not necessarily straightforward to identify. This is one of the easier ones, the garden bumble bee, appropriately enough as I found it in my garden.

garden bumble bee

garden bumble bee

Some of them would probably be passed over as wasps as they are mainly black and yellow, these are the Nomad bees and they are parasites of other solitary bees, often of just one species.

Nomada 5

Nomada goodeniana – Gooden’s nomad bee

Nomada 3

Nomada leucophthalma – the early nomad bee

Nomada 2

Nomad bee (I have not identified this one yet)

As you can see they are all similar, but slightly different.

Of course when you start looking for one thing you start seeing others. I can across several small spiders including these two jumping spiders.

Heliophanus flavipes

Heliophanus flavipes

They are fierce hunters for their size, creeping up on their prey and using their many eyes and excellent binocular vision to judge a jump to capture their prey. The one above is not rare, but not seen nearly as often as the zebra jumping spider, which often hunts on walls and fences as w ell as vegetation.

zebra spider with hoverfly prey

zebra spider with hoverfly prey

I also saw several large red damselfly, much earlier than last year when I barely saw one before May.

large red damselfly

large red damselfly