Sunday 22 May 2011

Two summer bees

The Summer season is quickly advancing this year. This week, Stachys sylvatica, the hedge woundwort, came into blossom and it has quickly being followed by the first Anthophora furcata males, which I saw yesterday visiting the sage, the foxgloves and Lamium maculatum. The previous two years I spotted the first males on the 7th and 10th of June, so the 21st of May is very early indeed.
Anthophora furcata male visiting sage
 The second summer bee is the leaf-cutter bee, Megachile. I think I have already seen the two species that visit my garden this year. The first one, a female Megachile centuncularis (tentative ID) cold on a Cat's Ears, Hypochoeris radicata, on the 16th of May.
Megachile centuncularis on Cat's Ears
The second, a just emerged male M. willughbiella, peeking out from its cell in the bee hotel, its white-golden gloves visible (top photo) on the 18th (top photo). A few moments later, a male was sunnying itself, stretching its abdomen, and grooming itself on a branch nearby and flying away into the wide world.
A fresh Megachile willughbiella male stretching its jaws and showing its white gloves
This small bee hotel -placed in a sheltered, sunny fence in the garden - has been very popular with bees this season, and many of last year's cells have produced bees. You can see the muddy remaining of the walls of last years nests around some of the openings in the photo above -, and several others have been completed this year by red mason bees, Osmia rufa, which are still active.

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