Discovery of Breeding Colony of Ivy Bee Colletes hederae, in Stourport-on-Severn
Speedy Haircut leads to Discovery of Colletes hederae, Ivy Bee Colony
Since the discovery by Brett Westwood of one solitary Colletes hederae in a garden in Wolverley in 2013, the hunt has been on to find evidence of a breeding colony of these very attractive solitary bees in Worcestershire. Brett gave some interesting background information on the species (Westwood 2013). Geoff Trevis had issued an early ‘look out for this bee’ in 2011 when it had reached Gloucestershire (Trevis 2011).
On 2nd October 2014, husband David’s visit to the barber in Stourport-on-Severn was unusually brief, leaving him time to check a small area of short sloping grass at the edge of a District Council car park before his free parking expired. We had seen odd solitary bees and wasps earlier in the year showing interest in this 45° south facing slope on very light sandy soil, typical of this area.
Although the weather was not ideal, being rather overcast and cool, there were some sunny spells and it was during these that it became apparent that the slope was being used by what could only be Colletes hederae. We were familiar with the species from late holidays in Cornwall and Isle of Wight, when we had seen many individuals and found breeding colonies.
The following day David, myself, Rosemary Winnall and Mick Blythe met at the site in the hope that Rosemary would be able to get some good photographs and the rest of us would be able to catch one or two bees for formal identification by Geoff Trevis, County Recorder for Aculeate Hymenoptera. The day was reasonably sunny, which was fortunate as the number of bees flying definitely reduced whenever it became dull. They seemed to prefer the lower half of the slope which was three to four metres in total depth and the length of the whole grass bank was about 40 metres. We estimated that there could be up to 200 individual nest holes as these were not always as obvious as we at first thought. There were some sizeable patches of flowering ivy in the general area but we did not find any C. hederae using these, although as some was clothing quite high walls the bees could well have been using the sunnier sides which were out of sight.
Rosemary made contact with Wyre Forest District Council to draw their attention to this important find and to try to ensure that the current management of periodic close mowing of the site continues. They have confirmed that there are no plans to do anything more to the site but with much of the actual work going out to contract, the most we can do is keep our fingers crossed.
No other sites were found in 2014, so the hunt for more sites will have to wait until later in 2015. If there is anything to be learnt from this article, it surely must be that it’s always worth giving even the most boring looking area a second glance as it might hold a pleasant surprise!
Thanks to Rosemary Winnall for providing the photographs to accompany this article.
Westwood, B. 2013. - Ivy Bees Colletes hederae in Worcestershire. Worcestershire Record, 35:
Trevis, G. 2011 Alien bee Colletes hederae reaches Cheltenham . Worcestershire Record 31:16-17.
01. Colletes hederae bee bank, Stourport. Rosemary Winnall
02. Colletes hederae bee bank, Stourport. Rosemary Winnall
03 Colletes hederae bee bank, Stourport. Rosemary Winnall
04. Colletes hederae in Stourport. Rosemary Winnall
05. Colletes hederae in Stourport. Rosemary Winnall