Large Scabious Mining Bee
Latin name: Andrena hattorfiana
Notable feature: Strongly associated with scabious flowers, particularly Field Scabious and to a lesser extent Small Scabious
Conservation Status: Not Evaluated
Where in the UK: In Britain, it’s a scarce southern species, its range currently extends as far north as south Wales to Oxfordshire and the north Norfolk coast. Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire supports what is probably the most substantial population in the country. In Sussex, it is a species principally of chalk grassland although across its range dry, sandy grasslands are also used (eg the Brecks).
Large Scabious Mining Bee (Andrena hattorfiana) © Will Hawkes
The Large Scabious Mining Bee (Andrena hattorfiana) is a medium sized bee; females are slightly larger than a Honey Bee and males are slightly smaller than their female counterparts.
Both male and female Large Scabious are very similar in appearance. Females have a shiny black abdomen, with orange hairs at the tip and are often laden with bright pink pollen; there is also a red banded form. Males have a shiny black abdomen – which may sometimes be red-marked – with orange hairs at the tip; they differ from females in that they have a whitish face with two black spots.
- Size: Up to 1.6cm in length, with a 10-12mm wingspan
- Life span: Annual life cycle; adults are on the wing June to mid-August
- Diet: Females collect pollen almost exclusively from Field Scabious but do also use Small Scabious. The pollen from Field Scabious gives the females their characteristic pink colouration. Various flowers are used for nectar.
- Reproduction: Nesting occurs in fairly small aggregations unlike a lot of other mining bees. Nests are in the ground in areas hidden by low vegetation. Each egg is provisioned with a small ball of pollen.
- When to see: Adults fly from late June to mid-August
- Population Trend: This is a very rare and much declined species; declining over much of its former range but showing signs of an increase in some areas (eg Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire) in recent years. It was recorded in Hertfordshire and Lincolnshire in 2021.
- Threats: Loss of habitat, in particular loss of its host plant (Field Scabious), as a result of agricultural intensification, urbanisation and scrub encroachment.
- Fun Fact: The Large Scabious Mining Bee is Britain’s largest mining bee (in terms of body size, other species do have a longer wingspan)
How you can help:
Buglife is working to increase awareness of invertebrates and the Large Scabious Mining Bee through specific projects, including North Cornwall B-Lines and Changing Chalk, but we need your help!
If you live in the North Cornwall B-Lines or Changing Chalk project areas and would like to get involved with surveys for this species, and it’s host plant, then get in touch ➡️ [email protected]
Join a recording scheme and log your finds – send any records/sightings to BWARS or download the iRecord app and get recording!
Do remember that we rely on donations to continue our work. If you have searched, found and learnt about our incredible invertebrates on our website, please do consider Making a Donation, Becoming a Member or maybe even making a purchase in our shop. For more ideas on how to support our work find out how to Get Involved. Thank you 🕷