volcanic bees

One of the best things about knowing your own space very well is looking out for the reappearance of favourites each spring.

The garden was created very much with plants in mind, and when we designed it we gave thought to the shape of borders, the siting of features, the placing of the trees and shrubs, the pond and the paved areas. Afterwards came the joy of planting and watching the return of old favourites season after season.

But in the past couple of seasons my attention has been won over by the invertebrates who have colonised our garden.  When I first identified a Tawny Mining Bee (Andrena fulva), it was sitting on my shoe and at that point I had no idea we had a nursery in the garden.

Last year I found a few tell tale holes in the border under where the Autumn flowering sedum grows. Tawny Mining bees make little volcanoes of soil as they excavate their nests, where they lay their eggs and provison them with pollen and nectar. The volcanoes only last for a short time whilst the bees are busy and then they weather into the borders or lawns to be forgotten for another year.

This spring, I have been inspecting the area where they nested to witness their reappearance. And  today a flash of fox orange reminded me they were about, and I was lucky to find a small male bee, thinner, less orange and sporting a white moustache, cold enough to tolerate me picking him up on my fingertip and allowing me to admire him for a few minutes. And I marvelled that this tiny life that has been dormant below the ground for the best part of a year had chosen this day to emerge and share the same space as me for a few weeks.

Lovely information sheet available from the good folk at the Bees, Wasps and Ants Recording Society (BWARs) HERE.  They are important pollinators of fruit blossom, and coincidentally, the first of my plum blossom has just opened.