These nomad bees have been driving me mad the last few days as they are pretty small (+/- 1 cm) and hardly ever land for more than a few seconds. They just cruise around and around the elder trees in the wild corner of the garden. Today I got a break as one of them got trapped in a spider’s web enabling me to get a decent look. They really do look like mini wasps, patrolling around like wasps too; but close up you can see red mixed with the yellow stripes on the body. This one appears to be Flavous Nomad Bee (Nomada flava), but the identification between this species and Panzer’s Nomad Bee is pretty difficult. Nomad bees are kleptoparasitic cuckoo bees of mining bees; in this case usually Andrena scotica (Chocolate Mining Bee). Apparently the males search our the host bee’s nests, which they scent mark, helping the females to locate the nests for egg laying. The nomad bee’s larvae kill the host’s and any other nomad bee larvae present, so only one bee larva remains in the nest to feed of the stored pollen & nectar, the adult wasp emerging the next Spring.
A bit of a mixed bag around the garden today, with Chocolate Mining Bee (Andrena scotica, 459) adding to the medley of mining bees that are present at the moment. A few Amara ground. beetles were to be seen in the sunshine; this one appears like a Common Sun Beetle (Amara aenea). Next a couple of spiders. Zebra Spider (Salticus scenicus, #460) is usually a common enough species of jumping spider, but I didn’t find one last summer, so it was nice to catch this one in the sunshine by the front door. The not-so-long-legged harvestman is Phalangium opilio (#461); found while doing some gardening,
I'm finding bees pretty hard to identify, despite having a Falk's field guide to the Bees of GB & Ireland on loan. Anyhow taking advantage of a wet Sunday, I think I made some progress with old photos from June & July.
In June the Wall Daisies had a lot of these small, orange-bellied solitary bees. Looking at photos and the guide, I think they can be identified as Patchwork Leaf-cutter Bee (#181), thanks to the extent of orange towards the tail segments.
The other bee also from June on White Bryony flowers also seems to be a solitary bee. Based on the amount of hair on the body and leg colour I reckon it's Yellow-legged Mining Bee (#309).
There's a few other microEden mysteries I need to solve, I'm glad to have worked at least some of them out.