The Way I See Things


Large meadow mining bee

As soon as I looked at that sweet little face, I felt sure that I was making a new acquaintance. I thought he was probably a mining bee, but I couldn't think of one with such extensive yellow facial markings, and I was sure I'd never photographed anything quite like it before. I was, as it turned out, right on both counts: he's a large meadow mining bee, Andrena labialis, and I have no previous photos or records of this species. 

According to Steven Falk, A. labialis is "a species of legume-rich habitats including clover-rich pasture, old quarries, brownfield sites and woodland rides and clearings. It flies from May to July and gathers pollen from legumes such as clovers, vetches and bird's-foot trefoils." (By the way, the word "large" in the common name refers to the size of the bee - around 13mm, which is quite big for a mining bee - and not the size of the meadow.) NatureSpot states that it's a widespread but local species in Southern England, becoming sparser in the Midlands and into Wales, with few records from Northern England and none from Scotland or Ireland. But neither they nor BWARS say much more about it, and I get the impression that it may be under-investigated and under-reported.

Why a grassland bee with an appetite for pea flowers should have turned up in my garden is a mystery. But given that he did, I'm happy to have met him, and pleased to be able to list him as my thirty first bee of 2023.

Sign in or get an account to comment.