Saturday, 4 June 2011

Early wool carder bees

This year much buglife has been appearing earlier in the season than last. Wool carder bees haven't bucked the trend and I saw the first male, yesterday, large, aggressive and bossy from the start, patrolling the sunny herb patch in my local Wildlife Garden. I came back today for more bee watching and better shots and females were also out. The main object of the resident male's attentions is a patch of Hedge Woundwort, Stachys sylvatica, a native plant close relative of Lambs ears, S. byzantina. Both are hairy plants of the mint family, the native one less so, and so favoured as food and wool plants by the female Wool Carder bee. The male knocked a bumblebee down to the ground and proceeded to watch a female while she fed, and attempted mating. He followed the female closely around the Stachys patch, hovering a few inches behind her (above). When she left, he moved around the patch, hovering in places, changing his body orientation, watching every moving thing that dared approach his newly founded chiefdom. He stopped to rest on a sunny leaf every now and then, all the time watching, vigilant.
The female feeds on Stachys sylvatica
Male Wool Carder bee resting

2 comments:

norwegica said...

Two days ago I got two females in the garden on the Stachys lanata I planted last year. They were there again yesterday 'cardering' hair from the plants but I haven't seen any males yet.

Blackbird said...

That's great news norwegica! I bet males won't take long to arrive. I find that this bee is not protandrous, and males and females appear pretty much at the same time.