It was just a garden bank besides the road. There was no hedge, just a tumbling sandy soil bank. And the Solitary bees had amassed to nest and breed.
There was a girl playing in the garden. Whilst I videoed the ‘swarm’ she was asking me what I was doing. When I explained she shouted out – ‘I don’t like bees’, which to be fair to her was the kind of response I would have expected. Perhaps I should not ‘like’ bees as I have to get to hospital quick if I am stung. However bees are the hidden movers and shakers of the natural world – without them our world and that of nature would be in serious trouble. A common theme in much of my work on green roofs has been to encourage the use of roofs by bees – and not just Honey Bees -but all bees – especially bumblebees and solitary bees. Although there has been much talk about Honey Bees in the press recent research in the UK points to the fact that it is the other bees – bumblebees and solitary bees – that are our nations main pollinators.
The solitary bees are Colletes halophilus. This species is a recent arrival in the UK and is found in and around the Thames Estuary and also in East Anglia and feed on Sea Aster.
The bank was a swarming mass. These Colletes solitary bees are very beautiful the beautiful rusty brown thorax and thick black antennae contrasting with the creamy yellow stripes on the abdomen. They were unperturbed as I ‘poked’ my iphone and camera into the bank to record their endeavours – in the main hovering and, presumably males, loitering on the soil waiting to mate with a passing female.
I am pretty sure I have never seen such a lively colony of solitary bees in all my life watching nature. I did see a small colony in April nesting in cracks on the coastal path near the Lizard. What these were I no not? And a few weeks ago I took a picture of another Colletes species. Later I will try and identify which one of the 8 or so Colletes species these were but for now I am still all abuzz about the solitary bee colony at Conyer, Kent.