Mid Wales Bees and Wasps
A Review of 2020
Updated: Feb 1, 2021
As we race towards the end of the year, I thought it would be interesting to write about the species that have been recorded in the mid Wales area this year.
There have been 13 new bees and 1 new wasp for the Counties of Radnorshire and Breconshire recorded in 2020, which is really exciting, considering there hasn't been much surveying this year due to the restrictions.
Long-horned bee, Eucera longicornis Photo, Keith Noble
This amazing looking bee is a male Long-horned bee, recorded for the first time in Breconshire. These are solitary bees that can be found nesting in aggregations. The females are less conspicuous, and not unlike a Common Carder bee in appearance. They have 'normal' length antennae, as it is only the males that have the extended length antennae.
For the first time this year, the Hairy-Footed Flower bee, Anthophora plumipes was recorded in Radnorshire.
These are solitary bees that like to nest in soft rock situations, and will use soft mortar in walls to create their burrows, sometimes nesting in large numbers ( hundreds of individual bees have been recorded).
Hairy-Footed Flower bee Anthophora plumipes
Another Anthophora species was recorded for the first time in a garden in Radnorshire this year, the Fork-tailed Flower bee, Anthophora furcata. This species do not have the long tibial hairs on the legs (males only) as A. plumipes, and could even be mistaken for a small bumblebee.
Common Mourning bee, Melecta albifrons was recorded for the first time in Radnorshire this year. They are cleptoparasites, and do not create their own nests. The female will go into the burrow of Anthophora species of bees to lay their own eggs in there, which will eat the larvae of the host, as well as its provisions and will eventually hatch out from the burrow as an adult.
Common Mourning bee, Melecta albifrons. Photo Ginny Clarke
Another first for Radnorshire was the Plain Dark Bee, Stelis phaeoptera, photographed below. This is the cleptoparasite of the Orange-Vented Mason Bee, Osmia leaiana, that was also recorded for the first time this year. Both were recorded together in my garden.
Other 'firsts' this year, all recorded and verified from Radnorshire, are listed below. Unfortunately, I don't have any photos of these bees, hence the list.
Small Sallow mining bee, Andrena praecox
Shiny-Margined mini mining bee, Andrena semilaevis
Trimmer's mining bee, Andrena trimmerana
Davies' Colletes, Colletes daviesanus
Least mining bee, Lasioglossum minutissimum
Neat mining bee, Lasioglossum nitidiusculum
Hairy Legged mining bee, Melitta leporina
Dark Nomad bee, Nomada sheppardana
Dark Blood bee, Sphecodes niger
Reticulate Blood bee, Sphecodes reticulatus
Not forgetting the wasp that was a 'stand out' record this year, Gorytes laticinctus. Solitary wasps have not been graced with common names yet (which makes life much easier for me!). This species is recorded in the south east of England usually, on heathland habitat. However, it turned up in the BIS office in Brecon on the windowsill in summer. The wasp is quite unmistakable and I sent the photos to Mike Edwards of the Bees, Wasps and Ants Recording Society for verification. This wasp is a ground nesting species, and will make a burrow in which to lay its eggs. The females will provision the burrow with froghopper bugs for its larvae once they hatch.
Gorytes laticinctus, male. Photo:Ben Mullen
Although rarely recorded in Wales, this wasp has in fact been spotted in the last couple of years. It is of course possible that the species is moving northwards, due to climate change.
In 2019, there is a record in Merthyr Tydfil and 3 records, also in 2019, north of Welshpool.
This species is currently listed as Rare, Red Data Book 3, in Shirt, (1987) and Falk, (1991), BWARS, 2020. It may also be that there is an increase in the interest of aculeates in recent years, so more people are looking out, so do keep your eyes peeled!
I will continue to put up some identification information in the next few weeks, ready for spring species to look out for (not long now).
In the meantime, I would like to thank everyone for their contributions and records this year and look forward to more exciting records in 2021.
Best wishes, Janice.