Northern Colletes

Fast Facts

Latin name: Colletes floralis

Notable feature: This is a rare species in Europe and some of the largest populations appear to be in Britain and Ireland

Conservation Status: Vulnerable

Where in the UK: Northern Ireland (largest UK population), Scotland, Northern England

Northern Colletes (Colletes floralis) © Michael Bell


The Northern Colletes is a medium sized bee.  It has a black abdomen with a narrow white band on each segment; the upper side of the thorax and head are covered in fox-coloured hairs.  Males and females are similar in appearance, with females being slightly larger.

The Northern Colletes is a solitary bee, meaning that a single female constructs and looks after her nest; they may live in aggregations (where, although solitary, the bees will nest in close proximity to each other).

The Northern Colletes is a ground nesting bee; often digging burrows in soft, sandy soil.

    • Size:  From 8 to 15mm in length.
    • Diet:  The Northern Colletes feeds on nectar – foraging on plant species such as Wild Carrot, Clovers, Wild Thyme and Sheep’s-bit.
    • Reproduction: The Northern Colletes emerge in late June, they mate soon after.  The males will then die and the female constructs a burrow in which she will lay her eggs.  Each egg is sealed inside its own cell with enough food for the larva to survive through the winter, before pupating in the burrow and emerging as an adult the following June.
    • When to see:  From mid-June to late August on warm days.
    • Population Trend:  Declining across Europe
    • Threats: Loss of habitat due to climate change and coastal development – forage areas and nesting sites bust be in close proximity (less than 500m).
    • Fun Fact: The Northern Colletes is a ground-nesting bee and can dig it’s burrow as much as 26cm deep!

Solitary Bee Week is from the 27th June to the 3rd July each year, so if like us you love solitary bees don’t forget to #WearYourStripes!

How you can help: 

Buglife is working to increase awareness of invertebrates and the Northern Colletes through specific projects, including B-Lines and Species on the Edge and campaigns such as “Ardeer Peninsula – Scotland’s bee haven” 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.   To find out more about the Northern Colletes check out our Northern Ireland Threatened Bee ReportMore information about B-Lines and how you can help pollinators can be found on our B-Lines & Pollinator Projects pages.

Join a recording scheme and log your finds – download the iRecord app and get recording!

Specific species advice, support with identification and recording can be obtained from BWARS (Bees, Wasps & Ants Recording Society)

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 🕷