Six-banded Nomad Bee Project

Six-banded Nomad Bee (Nomada sexfasciata) © Steven Falk

The Six-banded Nomad Bee (Nomada sexfasciata) is one of Britain’s rarest bees – historically it was found across the south of England, but has recently only been found at one site – Prawle Point in South Devon.

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Quick Facts:

  • Name of Project: Six-banded Nomad Bee (Species Recovery Project)
  • Duration of Project: Spring 2022 – March 2026
  • Location of Project: Prawle Point, South Devon, England
  • Species benefiting from Project: Six-banded Nomad Bee (Nomada sexfasciata)
  • Project funded by:  Natural England

The Six-banded Nomad Bee is a cuckoo bee, and much like the cuckoo bird, they lay their eggs in the nests of other solitary bees. Female nomad bees will search out a host bee nest and lay their eggs. When their larvae hatch out, they feed on the pollen and nectar store provided by the host bee, before emerging as adults the following year.

The host for the Six-banded Nomad Bee is the Long-horned Bee (Eucera longicornis), which is itself threatened, and can be found in Southern England and Wales. Long-horned Bees feed on flowers in the legume family including Bird’s-foot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus), Everlasting Pea (Lathyrus sylvestris), Kidney Vetch (Anthyllis vulneraria), and Meadow Vetchling (Lathyrus pratensis).

Being a cuckoo bee, the Six-banded Nomad bee relies on good populations of their host bee in order to survive. Long-horned Bees need south-facing cliffs to nest, as well as a steady supply of foodplants throughout their flying season in order to sustain their populations. Unfortunately across much of their range, loss of habitat has caused declines in both bee species.

Six-banded Nomad Bee (Nomada sexfasciata) © Philip Strange Six-banded Nomad Bee (Nomada sexfasciata) © Philip Strange

What will the project do?

Buglife is working at Prawle Point, including with the Life on the Edge project, to undertake surveys and learn more about the populations of Long-horned Bee that make their homes there, by discovering more about the Long-horned Bee we hope to support populations of the Six-banded Nomad Bee.

We will support land owners and managers around Prawle Point and encourage them to provide legume-rich habitat for both species of bee, enabling them to survive into the future.

How can you support the project?

To learn more about the UK’s bees, please visit BWARS

For additional help with identification visit Steven Falk’s Flickr

Long-horned Bee (Eucera longicornis) © Steven Falk Long-horned Bee (Eucera longicornis) © Steven Falk

The Six-banded Nomad Bee (Species Recovery Project) is generously funded by Natural England