The female Tawny Mining Bee Andrena fulva is one of those Bee images that sticks in your mind, the combination of the red fox colouring to their backs and the black underside is quite unusual to see when it comes to Bees.
The Tawny Mining Bee is said to be a common, spring-flying solitary Bee, suffice to say I have never seen one before, until a few tantalizing, but brief views seen this spring.
The adults are only active for about six to eight weeks of the year, usually between April and June, so quite a small window of opportunity to look for this lovely Bee.
My first brief view was actually in the garden, as I approached the Flowering Blackcurrant expecting to see Hairy footed flower Bees, I disturbed a small chestnut coloured Bee which immediately flew off, I must admit it did not register to me that this was the Tawny Mining Bee until later.
My second brief view was in the walled garden of Ightham Mote a lovely National trust property we were visiting in Kent a few days later, although this time I did recognise it as the Tawny Mining Bee, once again it flew off out of sight.
Third time lucky as my wife and I neared the end of our morning's walk at Ashenbank Woods, I saw a Bee fly up from the leaf litter and land near by, my first impression was another Bee fly, a closer look revealed the 'foxy lady' herself, the Tawny Mining Bee in all her glory.
|female Tawny Mining Bee Andrena fulva|
Now to try and see the male of the species, which is probably not going to be as easy to identify, the male is described as more slender and more yellow in colour, once they have mated with a female they unfortunately will die.
The female nests underground, often producing a little volcano like mound around the entrance to the burrow, can't say I have noticed anything like this in our garden lawn, but these are the places to look for this solitary bee, lawns and flower beds in gardens and parks, banks and field margins in farmland and orchards where the margins have been mown.
The flight period April to June coincides with the flowering of fruit trees like apple, pear and cherry from which they collect pollen and nectar from, this should be another good place to look for them.
Eggs are laid in single cells in these burrows where nectar and pollen is provided for the larvae to develop, they then hibernate as pupa through the winter and emerge the following spring.
Certainly not a common bee for me, certainly a good looking bee.