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Holes in the lawn

Posted by Miranda Hodgson on 11 Apr 2011 at 03:05 PM

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


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on 11 Apr 2011 at 07:34 PM

richardpeeej said:

Very intriguing Miranda, I will keep a look out to see if I can see any of these mounds around. Thank you for the information and for keeping us informed of what to look out for at different times of year.....Richard

on 11 Apr 2011 at 11:08 PM

Miranda Hodgson said:

Thanks, Richard. Do keep a look out, there are lots of them about just now!

on 14 Apr 2011 at 04:46 PM

Sylvia said:

Hi Miranda. I've just found them in my lawn and I live on the Wirral - looks like they're heading further north!

on 15 Apr 2011 at 02:36 PM

Posie586 said:

Hi Miranda,  We used to live in North Yorkshire and would regularly see these "non-active anthills", and they flatten as soon as it rains etc. my neighbour at our new home in the Isle of Man noticed a line of 7 little hills yesterday, the 18th. the emerging bees then had to be rescued from our sitting room, door wide open all day, etc... lovely things!

on 19 Apr 2011 at 03:15 PM

Miranda Hodgson said:

Good to hear that there are healthy populations of mining bees up north, Sylvia and Posie! I've seen increasing numbers of the little mounds of soil in this area over the last week, so they must be busy!

on 27 Apr 2011 at 09:10 AM