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Mining Bee450h4554en

Nikon D5000. 1/500 F8, Sigma 105mm Macro lens.

Mining Bee Andy
Mining Bee450w4513en Mining Bee450w4539en

Nikon D5000. 1/600 F6.3, Sigma 105mm Macro lens.

Nikon D5000. 1/1600 F6.3, Sigma 105mm Macro lens.

Tawny Mining Bee (Andrena fulva)

On a hot summers day, I was walking along one of the wide footpaths winding through a pine woods in Farley Mount near Winchester when I noticed a strange insect fly past me at speed, it had a brown/reddish body and what looked like a long white abdomen. After some time investigating I realised what I was seeing was a Mining bee, probably (A. Fulva) carrying dead grass/ straw and twigs to build a construction over its nest. It was carrying the straw in its large jaws. I think the straw stack is to protect and disguise their nest, which would be a hole underground. There was a pair of bees building the straw stack as I call it, both very carefully placing each piece into position and there was a bit of a squabble if they met during building. 6 inches away was another nest completed. I did not know if it was from the same parents and there was little activity, so I only managed one picture of the finished nest with a bee, which entered the stack from the top. To film these bees in flight was almost impossible for me with my set up because they flew into the nest quite fast so most shots were on the ground, many pictures were taken with my camera set on continuous rapid-fire. I managed to get 50 pictures to keep. I sat for over an hour watching these fascinating bees working and rewarded with some interesting pictures, which is I am pleased with, especially as I have not seen this behaviour before.

I returned to the bee’s nest on the 03/07/12, after all the terrible weather I was expecting the nest to have been blown or washed away, especially as the nest was on the side of a footpath, where water drains away. To my surprise the nest was still in place and to touch it feels very solid, the bees have probably sealed the dead grass and sticks with wax, it was cold and raining so no activity.

Location: Farley Mount, Near Winchester, Hampshire, UK. 25/05/2012.

Mining Bee450h4561en

Nikon D5000. 1/1500 F8, Sigma 105mm Macro lens.

Mining bee, positining  straw over nest.