Mark Patterson of Api:Cultural, a consultancy working with businesses and communities to benefit London’s pollinators, writes:
On Easter Sunday, I led a free Bee Identification Walk for the Friends of Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park. We were lucky with great weather, and 20 people enjoyed Cemetery Park at one of its loveliest times of year. The tremendous variety of spring wild flowers and bulbs attract a really good range of bees and other pollinators, and we recorded 15 species of bees on the walk.
This is a list of what we saw:
Chocolate Mining Bee (Andrena scotica) – very numerous;
Grey-patched Mining Bee (Andrena nitida) – very numerous;
Early Mining Bee (Andrena haemorrhoa) – very numerous;
Gwynne’s Mining Bee (Andrena bicolor) – numerous;
Hairy-footed Flower Bee (Anthophora plumipes) – numerous;
Buff-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus terrestris) – common but numbers seem down on last year;
Common Carder Bee (Bombus pascuorum) – numerous;
Tree Bumblebee (Bombus hypnorum) – only one, definitely down on previous years;
Red-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus lapidarius) – only 1, fewer than normal;
White-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus lucorum) – only 1, also seem down;
Mourning Bee (Melecta albifrons) – 3, the most I’ve ever seen in Cemetery Park in one day (see header photo);
Red Mason Bee (Osmia bicornis) – numerous;
Blue Mason Bee (Osmia caerulescens) – 1 male, they are out early;
Flavous Nomad Bee (Nomada flava) – probably the commonest bee we saw, which is odd as it’s a cuckoo bee, and commoner than in previous years, indicating its Andrena hosts are very numerous;
Gooden’s Nomad Bee (Nomada goodeniana) – numerous;
Earlier in the weekend, while preparing for the walk, I saw a few more species that we didn’t find on the Sunday. The day before the walk I found two new species that I don’t recall seeing at Cemetery Park before. These were the Little Nomad Bee (Nomada flavoguttata), whose host is the Common Miniature Mining Bee (Andrena minutula), and Fabricus’ Nomad Bee (Nomada fabricana), which parasitises the Yellow-legged Mining Bee (Andrena flavipes). We didn’t see either of the hosts over the weekend, but I have recorded previously. These are both cryptic species and specimens were taken for identification under a microscope and keyed out.
On Good Friday I saw two of the nationally scarce Red-girdled Mining Bee (Andrena labiata). One was on speedwell on the chalk mound, where I hadn’t previously seen them. The other was in front of the Soanes Centre, also on speedwell. These are the only two I’ve seen so far this spring – I think their numbers are down on previous years as I’ve often seen many together.
Header photo: Mourning Bee (Mark Patterson)