Country Diary: Down on the floor with the solitary bees | Jan Miller

31. května 2023 10:00


Holywell, Flintshire: In my attempts to make my garden more suitable for Mediterranean herbs, I created the conditions for these fascinating insectsI'm lying on my front on the moist, mossy lawn, the sun warming my back. Around me swallows are swooping in and out of the barn while dandelions, lady's smock and cowslips attract the butterflies and bees. But down here, my attention is focused under the box hedges of my herb garden. I am watching volcanoes form. Not the sort that spew hot lava, but small cones of the gritty soil with a vent in the top about the size of my little fingernail.These are the entrances to the breeding burrows of the tawny mining bee, Andrena fulva. They are just one of the 240 species of solitary bees in Britain, and are just as important for pollination as the one species of honeybee. Each has different shaped mouthparts, which have evolved alongside flowers with different access routes to their nectar so that the plants are more likely to be pollinated from the same species. And you don't have to farm the solitaries. This type needs only fine, sandy soil so they can dig deep burrows (and surprisingly quickly too with their tiny legs). They make side chambers and lay one egg in each, with a small supply of nectar and pollen. Then they're sealed up and the larvae left to hibernate over winter, until they dig their way out the next spring. Continue reading...


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