As stakeouts go, this may not have been the most action packed and I doubt they’ll make a movie of this one; but the end result for me was all the excitement I needed! We’d been seeing loads of posts on social media about Ivy Bees (Colletes hederae). This species of bee was only discovered in Britain in 2001, when they were spotted in Dorset. Since then they’ve been spreading north and have reached as far as Staffordshire. They forage pretty much exclusively on ivy flowers, so the adults emerge in time to match the ivy flowering in September.
As usual bee envy set in and we (well mainly I) wanted to see them too. There is a very large stand of ivy down the road from us, so when Chris went for a walk with his camera last weekend, he was under instruction to look out for ivy bees. And much to my delight, he found them! Of course now I knew they were in Malvern, I wanted to spot one in our garden too. So this is how I came to be staking out the ivy in our garden today. It’s not a huge patch of ivy like the one down the road, but it is flowering, so I sat down to wait.
Since I wasn’t immediately inundated with the desired bees, I spent time observing the other insects. There was a surprising amount around considering it is now technically autumn. This grasshopper may have been missing one back leg, but it was making the most of the sunshine, sitting on top of one of the solar panels for the pond pumps.
There were also a few Green Shieldbug nymphs, of varying stages, meandering about the leaves at my feet, with at least one adult visible but out of photographic range.
I got a bit excited when I spotted something on the ivy flowers, but it turned out to be just a Common Wasp.
One of my favourite hoverflies clearly wanted in on the photo shoot too – this is Helophilus pendulus, which is sometimes known as The Footballer because his stripy thorax is supposed to look a bit like a football shirt!
There were quite a few bees about – such as this rather tatty looking Common Carder (top) and slightly fresher looking Honey Bee (bottom)
I was about to give up for the day, when a single bee landed next to the ivy. It didn’t hang about long, so I didn’t get the chance for many photos, but at least I got enough to confirm it was an Ivy Bee – my stakeout had paid off!
Although I was very pleased to have got a pic of our Ivy Bee, the photos Chris took last weekend were loads better, not least because they show the bees actually on the ivy! So here are a couple of my favourites.
The Bees, Wasp & Ant Recording Society (BWARS) have got a mapping project going to record the spread of the Ivy Bees, so our sightings both in the garden and down the road have been duly logged. If anyone else spots these distinctive bees, do please record them as well, so that they can build up a better picture of the current distribution. http://www.bwars.com/content/colletes-hederae-mapping-project