Buffish Mining Bee
Latin name: Andrena nigroaenea
Notable feature: Bright orange brush of hairs on the hind legs
Conservation Status: Least Concern
Where in the UK: Common in the majority of the UK, widespread in England, coastal Wales and Scottish lowlands, less common in Northern Ireland and listed as Vulnerable in the Northern Ireland Threatened Bee Report.
Buffish Mining Bee (Andrena nigroaenea) © John Walters
The Buffish Mining Bee (Andrena nigroaenea) is a large noticeably hairy, native solitary bee that emerges in early spring and has no strong preference for any particular habitat, being found in urban areas and in intensively farmed landscapes alike. This species is one of the first to emerge in the spring, males often flying rapidly over areas of bare ground or sitting on dandelion flowers.
With a dense ginger coat and orange pollen brush, it is one of the more distinctive solitary bees to look out for. Females are about the size of a honeybee, their bodies are covered with dense ginger-brown or ‘buffish’ hairs; the face is black-haired. A key identification feature is the bright orange brush of hairs on the hind legs, used to collect pollen. Males are less distinctive, smaller and slimmer than the females and do not have the orange pollen brush.
It is widely distributed in Europe, not regarded as scarce or threatened in Britain, but is listed as Vulnerable in the Northern Ireland Threatened Bee Report.
- Size: 10-15mm in length
- Life span: Annual life cycle taking approximately one year to complete. The adult Buffish Mining Bee lives for approximately 5-6 weeks.
- Diet: The Buffish Mining Bee collects pollen and nectar; feeding from various plants including blossoming spring shrubs and flowers such as willows and fruit trees. This species also visits herbaceous plants such as dandelions and buttercups.
- Reproduction: Females tend to nest in bare ground and short turf, nesting both alone and in large aggregations, often with other Andrena species. It is the host of Gooden’s Nomad Bee (Nomada goodeniana) and Marsham’s Nomad Bee (Nomada marshamella)
- When to see: The Buffish Mining Bee is most active from April to June
- Population Trend: The general population trend of the Buffish Mining Bee is unknown, but it has undergone significant decline in Northern Ireland in recent years
- Threats: Urbanisation and pesticide use leading to loss of habitat and food plants
- Fun Fact: There is a nesting aggregation of Buffish Mining Bees at the Spetchells in Prudhoe, England with over 100,000 bees!
How you can help:
Buglife is working to increase awareness of invertebrates and the Buffish Mining Bee through specific projects, including Belfast’s Buzzing and B-Lines, but we need your help!
Buglife B-Lines are an imaginative and beautiful solution to the problem of the loss of flowers and pollinators. B-Lines are a series of ‘insect pathways’ running through our countryside and towns, along which we are restoring and creating a series of wildflower-rich habitat stepping stones. Linking existing wildlife areas together, creating a network, like a railway, that will weave across the UK landscape. More information about B-Lines and how you can help pollinators can be found on our B-Lines & Pollinator Projects pages.
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