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Steven Falk

Tawny mining bee (Andrena fulva) © Steven Falk

Tawny mining bee

Steven Falk

Fast facts

  • Latin name: Andrena fulva
  • Notable feature: Furry, ginger-coloured bee
  • Rarity in UK: Rare / Common
  • Where in the UK: Widespread
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As spring brings your garden to life this April keep an eye out for small mounds of earth in your lawn - you may have a special, and rarely noticed, springtime visitor!  

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Mystery visitor
This pretty, furry, ginger-coloured bee is very common in gardens, even in city centres. Many people will have several of them nesting in their lawns each year without really knowing they are there. What they might notice though, are little volcano-shaped mounds that appear on the lawn in early spring. These differ from ants’ nests in that they have a single hole in the top about 4mm in diameter.

Your lawn - a safe place to nest
As their name suggests, female Tawny mining bees dig holes in the ground to provide a safe nesting place where they can lay their eggs and the young bees can develop before emerging the following year. Unlike honey bees or most bumblebees, Andrena species are solitary and females work on their own to build a nest and collect pollen for the young to feed on, but there might be many nests concentrated in a small area, giving the impression of social activity. Male Tawny mining bees are smaller and brownish. They play no part in nest building or providing for their offspring.

Harmless pollinators
Tawny mining bees are totally harmless and will not sting. In fact, they are useful pollinators of garden plants, fruit trees and crops like Oil-seed rape. Their nests will not damage the lawn and the little earth mounds will disappear after a couple of weeks, so there is no need to remove them or try to discourage these lovely little bees – just enjoy them and look out for some of the fascinating parasites associated with them such as bee-flies and nomad bees!

Claudia Watts

Tawny mining bee (Andrena fulva) © Claudia Watts

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