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I’d forgotten about this little colony of Ashy mining bees (Andrena cineraria) until I walked past on today’s exercise walk, saw their buzz of spring activity, remembered them at this location last summer. The female bees have set up home – a series of individual nests, accessed by the small holes you can see in my photos – in a sandy bank near the entrance to one of the few local parks that’s still open.

200414 ashy mining bee male (1)200414 ashy mining bee male (2)

The males in this group (2 of perhaps 20 shown above) were particularly active, sometimes fighting each other for access to the larger females (the two photos immediately below), sometimes battling with the females as they tried to mate with them.

200414 ashy mining bees

Unfortunately, I was not the only creature watching the bees’ activity – a Dark-edged bee-fly (Bombylius major) was also hovering nearby, waiting to roll its eggs into the bees’ tunnels so its larvae could predate the bees’ offspring. Not surprisingly, the bees were dive-bombing, trying to make it flee.

200414 dark-edged bee-fly