Having had some time off for an unpleasant injury, I’m raring to go again and keeping a close watch on what some of the other species around me are getting up to. There is a lot going on at this time of year, so much so that it can be hard to decide which thing to mention first but, on a visiting a few gardens recently, I’ve seen the same thing occurring in them all – little volcano-like mounds of soil with a hole in the top. These are the nests of Tawny mining bees (Andrena fulva).
Tawny mining bees are found mainly in the south and central UK, though I have also seen nests along sandy woodland paths in Lincolnshire. These attractive, furry little bees are solitary bees and one hole represents one nest. The female will dig out several such holes and, in each, she will lay an egg and surround it with pollen and nectar for the larva to feed on.
Not many people notice that they have bees nesting in their lawn except, perhaps, those who cut the grass and it can come as a surprise, but you can pretty much guarantee that they’ll be there each year at around this time. They are useful bees to have around as they pollinate many currant bushes and fruit trees. Parents have little to fear from these bees, because their stings are so small they are not strong enough to cause harm.
Keep a look out for the next month, as once the female bee has laid her eggs, the little mound of soil will gradually spread out and within a couple of weeks, will have all but disappeared. If you are patient and lucky, you might even get to see a Tawny mining bee going into or emerging from her nest.
Pictures of Tawny mining bees
More information about solitary and Tawny mining bees from The Natural History Museum and Wild About Gardens