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OTHER INSECT PAGES:   LADYBIRDS  |  GLOW-WORMS  |  BEE ISSUES

TO BEE OR NOT TO BEE...that is the question.

One green lane that leads onto my local Common is alive with insects in spring. Unfortunately Nature can be very confusing sometimes. What looks like a bee may be a fly and what looks like a wasp may be a bee!

Bees generally have hairy legs, a rounded hairy abdomen and feed on pollen and nectar. Wasps generally have hairless legs, hairless abdomen with a narrower waist, and are predators or parasites of other insects (or are scavengers).

Both bees and wasps generally have two pairs of membranous wings (Hymenoptera) and both may live either in social groups or be solitary.

The pictures and descriptions below demonstrate what I mean.

 

COMMON CARDER BUMBLEBEE.

This bumblebee has the habit of combing moss and dry grass to make its nest - hence the name. Nests, comprising about 100 workers, are on or just below the ground.

TAWNY MINING BEE.

This solitary bee is the one that makes those little conical mounds at the entrance to its nest hole in your garden in spring. The shaft may be 20 cm deep and contains larval cells provisioned with pollen and honey along its length. The female is foxy-red, the male much plainer.

DARK-EDGED BEE-FLY.

This insect, looking like a bee, has only one pair of wings (diptera) and is a fly. It is not common in Cumbria but can be seen in the south of the county, often hovering around Primrose, violets and Ground Ivy (as here). It drops its eggs at the entrance to the tunnels of solitary bees like the one above. Its larvae find their way to the bee's larval cells and steal their food supply.

Note the long proboscis (left image) which is visible even when the fly hovers.

NOMAD BEE

Looking like a solitary mason or digger wasp this is actually one of several nomad bees. It is a cuckoo - it lays its eggs in the cells of other solitary bees so that the larvae eat the pollen/honey stored there.

WALL MASON WASP

Wasps have narrower waists!

BEES COLLECT
POLLEN!
...... AND
SOMETIMES
MITES !