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NORWICH: More interesting bees

10th June 2017

After dropping Cathy off in the city I headed to Earlham Cemetery, where I hoped to catch up with a bee that Vanna (by now being called the Bee Whisperer by her husband) had found in the week. The bee in question was Wool Carder Bee. This interesting species gets its name from the behaviour of scraping hairs from hairy plant leaves and carrying them back to line the nest. It is also one of our more distinct bee species, having a pattern on bright dots or bars along the edge of the abdomen. One of its favoured plants is Lamb's Ears (Stachys byzantina), and once I had located the plant, I immediately noticed the bee.

Originally I had intended to head on to Whitlingham, but instead I detoured slightly to see Vanna and Jeremy. I had received an email to say that they had a potentially very interesting bee, one not recorded in Norfolk since 1879. It was the Little Yellow-face (Hylaeus pictipes), and due in part to the scarcity and in part to the potential difficulty in separating it from similar species, they had caught it to show Tim Strudwick, the county recorder. I popped round and took a few photos, which although not great do show the facial groove heading above the eyes and curving in towards the central ocelli, which is the key ID feature. As expected, Tim confirmed the record, so another great find for Vanna!

Whilst there I admitted that I hadn't actually recorded any of the yellow-faced bees before, so we had a quick look around the Ox-eye Daisies that are their preferred flower in the garden. We quickly spotted some, with Vanna finding a female Common Yellow-face (Hylaeus communus) and I noticed some males, of which we caught one and Vanna identified it as Hairy Yellow-face (Hylaeus hyalinatus). Both of last week's scarce Anthophoras, A. furcata and A. quadrimaculata were also still present. As I was about to leave A Chrysotoxum hoverfly, pragmatically although not definitely Chrysotoxum cautum flew into the garden and landed briefly.

Thanks again to Vanna and Jeremy for their hospitality and letting me know about their rare bee - their suburban Norwich garden bee list now stands at an amazing 44, and I wouldn't bet against the 50 being reached by the end of the year.

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