Little Black Solitary Bee

04th July 2012
Another in a long line of wet and miserable days today. I had some work to do, but at around 09.30 hrs, decided to have a look in the garden and see if there was any insect activity. There was a steady drizzle and everything was dripping wet. Not a good sign! The first plant I looked at though, had something interesting.

In May, I had photographed some Nomada and Melecta cuckoo bees "roosting" on grass stems. This is not uncommon behaviour for them and it's speculated that they are more likely to do this because they have no burrows of their own to roost in. Often, they are found clinging to the plant stems with just their mandibles. This little black bee was exhibiting similar behaviour. It was soaked and immobile.

As the plant was in an awkward spot and blowing around in the breeze, I removed the leaf (together with attached bee) and brought it indoors to photograph. This was a small bee (4-5mm), black, with sparce patches of pale golden hairs on its head and thorax and thin bands on the abdomen. I don't think I've seen one before.

The bee slowly "came to" with the indoor warmth and started to groom itself. I got some more photographs and also encouraged it onto a white card. I then released it into the garden. Does the particular roosting behaviour suggest that this is a species of cuckoo bee? I've posted images on Twitter, Flickr and iSpot, but have had no suggestions yet as to type. If you recognise it, please let me know!

Click on any image for a larger version ...


Photo comment By Africa Gomez: Cool shots. Sorry I can't be of help for the bee but I would try iSPOT or Wild about Britain or Twitter for the ID, but the behaviour of sleeping hanging onto a bee by the jaws is quite widespread in bees. I have seen Anthophora plumipes and Anthidium manicatum doing it.

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