Ivy plasterer bee

As summer draws to a close and autumn begins to set in, the Ivy plasterer bee is the last flying bee of the season which makes it easier to identify, relying on the late flowering Ivy as its main source of food. It will often be seen buzzing in gardens, parks and woodland edges, often in large numbers.

Fast Facts

Latin name: Colletes hederae

Notable feature: Furry, bright orange hair on the thorax, yellow with black bands and shiny mouth parts

Rarity in the UK: Rare / Common

Where in the UK: Widespread in southern England with an increasing number of records spreading further north into the midlands and west into Wales

Plasterer bees are so named as they use their saliva to smooth over and firm up the walls of their nests which are small holes in loose soil or sand, and can often be seen nesting in gardens. They are solitary, living on their own rather than in colonies, but they are known to form little communities living close to each other with the females laying eggs in a single cell. Also commonly known as the Ivy mining bee or simpy the Ivy bee.

October is a time when most bees are in hibernation already but being a late forager, the Plasterer bee can often be seen on Ivy. They are specially adapted to survive in the colder weather so they can access their favourite food source. Despite having striking yellow and black bands and a rather shiny mouth, the Plasterer bee can be easily mistaken for a honeybee , however the honeybee doesn’t have a yellowy orange tuft of fur on its head like that of the Plasterer bee.

The Ivy bee is a buzzing success story having only been recorded for the first time in Devon (2001) and has been branching out across the south, further north and into Wales, who knows, you may even spot it in your garden this year, and with its strikingly vibrant colour it is definitely one to look out for!