Thursday, 29 June 2017

Hairy-Legged Mining Bee



This little bee in the photo above, adorned with the golden pantaloons, is a Hairy-Legged Mining Bee (Dasypoda hirtipes).

She turned up in our garden over the weekend and I've just had confirmation that she is what I thought she was: a Nationally Scarce species, recorded in less than 100 of the 10km squares that Britain is divided in to.

As such, she is more common than the Tawny Longhorn (who has been back in the garden and brought a friend with him),


but still rare enough for it to be very exciting and important that she's in our garden. The species distribution is around a handful of sites around the southern part of the UK, mainly coastal sand dunes and inland heaths. We are neither of those so I'm curious as to why she's arrived in our garden.

Britain has around 270 species of bee, and 250 of those are solitary bees. Many of them nest in holes in the ground, which is why it is so vitally important that lawns (a huge nesting resource for solitary mining bees) aren't treated with pesticides which would kill them. Solitary bees are responsible for the majority of pollination in this country, both of our crops and in our gardens, so they are incredibly important. They just don't get to share much of the limelight with honeys and bumbles and as a result, people know very little about them.

This little bee digs a big tunnel to nest in: 8-60cm, and leaves the waste pile to one side of the hole. She digs the tunnel in the afternoon and isn't usually seen after lunch because her preference is to visit yellow Asteraceae flowers (daisy family) which tend to close in the late morning.

Hirtipes means hairy. This bee is the only species of the genus to be found in Britain.

I've also had a few visits from Small Tortoiseshells this summer, which is great news because they've been notable by their absence in recent years. Here's one snoozing on the house wall before the weather broke....


The Marmalade hoverflies have been out in good numbers too...


And my Nigellas, grown from seed in the spring, are just starting to flower....


Everything in the garden is rosy. 

I wish the same could be said of my toenails. One of them is purple and looks very much like it would like to detach itself from my toe, one is yellow and two are varying impressive shades of red. I very nearly have Rainbow Feet. My solution is blister plasters, which I discovered on a runner's forum. I tried them out this morning on my 4 mile run and they work wonders: no pain, no rubbing. Which is just as well as I've another HM coming up in a couple of weeks' time and I'm not missing it because of sore toes! Bad toenails goes with the territory of distance running. I've yet to meet an endurance runner who didn't have gnarly nails :o)

Hope you're all well?

CT.

28 comments:

  1. AH! A Tawny Longhorn - so THAT'S what I spotted on my walk the other day. Or was it the Pyrochroa coccinia after all, as the back end of the wing cases look dark on the TL photos I've just checked.

    Well done with finding that Hairy Legged Mining Bee.

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    1. I don't think the tawny has much of a distribution in Wales. If you can get a photo IRecord will id it for you.

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  2. Fantastic shots, that bee with the comedy boomers on!!!

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  3. Your mining bee looks like it's wearing a helmet! Hope the toenails perk up. We have a plethora of nail bars in the village, I wonder what they'd make of them. x

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  4. I find that dark toe nail polish does the trick. I recommend Rimmel Midnight Rendezvous which is a delightful shade of dark purple/blue. It covers a multitude of sins :-) xx

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    1. :o). I've just taken the polish off to scare everyone at yoga! Xx

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  5. I'm sure all these rare breeds gravitate to your garden because they know you will be able to identify them so well. Feeling for your poor toenails, hopefully you will find a suitable way to protect them because I can't see you giving up running anytime soon!

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    1. Hoping through the blog to spread the word so folks keep an eye out for them. There are hairy legged mining bees in jersey :o). Toenails less painful today, phew! X

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  6. Hey CT,
    How exciting to have such select visitors! I've seen quite a few tortoiseshell butterflies this year, and have had two painted lady spots. Very pleased with that. Our garden treat has been the wren and her fledglings in our front garden, whirligigging around the fushcia and agapanthus before they go to bed. They may have all gone now, but it was quite a privilege. Olly still hopeful for a crab spider :)
    Leanne xx

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    1. My favourite small things, baby wrens. So bossy and adorable. Great on the flutter spots, well done! Wish I could magic up a crab spider for Olly xx

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  7. It's a testament to your fantastic gardening for wildlife that so many brilliant things are turning up. And testament to your spotting skills that you are finding them. Well done you! It seems that our great tit chicks are doing well, still visiting. There are goldfinch chicks about the place as well. I need to do better on the nectar front though. I have more flowery plans for next year. The lawn has done quite nicely lately though, covered in clover flowers, the bees seem to like that. And Bertie found a bee on the lavender earlier that he was very taken with. CJ xx

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    1. Clover is amazing with bees isn't it? Poppy is fond of them too... Have you tried growing a patch of wild flowers? The insects really flock to them xx

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  8. Even as allergic as I am to Bee I love them. We have solitary Arizona Bees, they live near each other but in their own space not in hives.
    They are lovely.

    cheers, parsnip and thehamish

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  9. Princess Jasmine bee from Aladdin with her beautiful puffy golden trousers is just gorgeous! These rare species visit you so they can star on your blog! Lovely photos!

    As for you toes... I have the same from walking a lot! A visit to the beauty salon to get them painted is the answer! Treat yourself!

    Love ❤️ to you all xx

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    1. Princess bee- one for Disney, eh?
      I think the manicurist would be appalled at the state of my toenails. They are not a pretty sight! I am reconciled to it now! Xx

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  10. I heard that they are trying to boost the numbers of the British native Black Bee somewhere. They are so scarce that I didn't even know about them.

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    1. That's really interesting- I didn't know about this. Thanks, Tom.

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  11. I suffer with blisters and use Compeed, which are expensive, so I get them when on special. They don't come off even after a shower. Love your post your knowledge of wildlife is fantastic

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  12. Ouch, your poor feet! My own toes are scrinched in sympathy. Don't they hurt while running or are the plasters preventative? I had no idea we had so many species of bee. I am constantly amazed at how many people use chemicals in their gardens! I have more weeds than grass but feel that it is some alive then. Thanks for your letter!!! I have written back but will have to get it posted. Hope all are well in CT land. Lots o' love. Shauna.x

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    1. I didn't notice it on the HM but the next day- yeouch! Will look forward to your letter xx

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  13. Hope your toes are alright! The bees - and other wildlife too of course! - are fascinating as always. I always think of you and bees together!

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  14. Oh, your poor toes! Glad that you've found the solution. I think you must be a sort of Pied Piper for wildlife - all the interesting things seem to gravitate towards you. I quite fancy a pair of golden pantaloons myself! xx

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    1. Perhaps when you're next sailing?! Xx

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Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x