Colletidae are a cosmopolitan group of bees with short tongues which nest in underground burrows.
are sometimes known as ‘Plasterer Bees’ because they produce a cellophane like resin to line their underground nest burrows.
Representatives common in London include the Honey Bee sized 'Ivy Mining Bee' Colletes hedera. This bee is an Ivy specialist emerging in September and the largest member of the family. Colletes hedera is a recent addition to the UK and is currently expanding northwards into northern England and Scotland. Its an example of a species which has naturally colonised the Uk on its own.
Davies Mining Bee Colletes daviesanus is a smaller plasterer bee which is active mid-summer and frequents composite flowers like Oxe-Eye Daisy and Achillea.
The Colletidae also includes the Hylaeus
known as Yellow Faced Bees for their distinctive facial markings.
Hylaeus bees favour composite flowers and can often be found on Astrantia blooms and Sea Holly Eryngium
which are commonly grown in gardens.
One of the most widespread representatives of this genus is the Common Yellow Faced Bee Hylaeus communis.
is the second largest family of bees in the UK with 69 species many of which collect pollen on their rear legs as Honey and Bumble Bees do.
A great many of London’s ground nesting solitary bees belong to the
genus of which there are 67 species.
These bees excavate underground burrows in compact soils, lawns and cliff faces, Burrows may be up to a meter deep.
Common examples in the city include the ginger Tawny Mining Bee Andrena fulva, the Chocolate Mining Bee Andrena scottica which can form large nesting congregations, Ashy Mining Bee Andrena cineria and the Painted Mining Bee Andrena nitida.
Andrena bees are the preferred host for a number of cuckoo bees in the Nomada genus.
The family also contains the
bees of which there are 2 UK species.
family contains the Halictus
Bees also known as Furrow Bees, the Lassioglossum
or ‘Sweat Bees’ and the Sphecodes
or ‘Blood Bees’ named because of their blood red colouration.
Other less well known members of the family include the Dufourea
( 2 species in the UK) and Rophites
genus (1 single UK species).
Some of these bees are primitively Eusocial. All have short tongues and prefer simple open type flowers. These very small bees are attracted to garden plants like Astrantia, Alliums, Thyme, Eryngium and Solidago.
Common examples found in London include the Slender Mining Bee Lassioglossum calceatum and the metallic green Lasioglossum morio.
Macropis or Oil Collecting bees and the
Dasypoda bees of which there is a single UK representative.
Melitta Bees are a small and specialised family of bees restricted to chalk grassland with 4 species found in the UK.
Two of these bees can be found at a number of sites in central London.
The Clover Bee Melitta leporina
can be found in East London on remnants of chalk grassland and on industrial wasteland where crushed concrete and rubble mimics the chalk soils their food plants rely on.
The Gold Tailed Bee Melitta haemorrhoidalis
is a specialist of bell flowers (campanulas) and can be found in the Rose Gardens of Hyde Park and suburban gardens where it collects pollen from Canterbury Bells, Nettle Leaved Bellflower and Carpet forming Bellflowers.
The Macropis bees have a single UK representative the Yellow Loosestrife Bee Macropis europaea
which collects oily secretions from Yellow Loosestrife flowers to line and water proof its nest burrows as it frequently nests in damp soils. They collect poll;en exclusively from Yellow Loosestrife flowers which typically grow in damp ground around pond margins.
Right: Clover Melitta bee Melitta leporina
family includes the Heriades
Resin Bees, Osmia
Wool Carder bees, Stelis
or ‘Scissor Bees’, Hoplitis
or Lesser Mason Bees and the Coelioxys
or ‘Sharp Tailed Bees.’
These bees excavate nest burrows in vertical surfaces such as walls, chalk and clay banks, decaying timber and hollow plant stems. They readily use solitary bee hotels and are easy to attract into your gardens.
Examples found throughout London include the highly territorial Wool Carder Bee Anthidium manicatum, Red Mason Bee Osmia bicornis
and the Bellflower Scissor Bee Chelostoma campanularum –
a tiny black bee no bigger than an ant which collects pollen exclusively from Bell flowers.
any species in this group of bee collect plant fibres to line their nests, others use mud to plug their nest tubes.
The Vipers Bugloss Mason Bee Hoplitis adunca
is a bee unique to London within the British Isles. It was discovered in Britain for the first time in 2016 at Greenwich Ecology Park in South East London.