The Early Bird Catches the Cuckoo (Bee)

02nd May 2012
The bee genus Nomada contains a couple of dozen species in the UK. They are cleptoparasites of other solitary bees; particularly of the Andrena Mining Bees. Cleptoparasitic bees "steal" the nests of other bees and are often referred to as Cuckoo Bees.

It is recognised that Nomada bees often "roost" by clinging to plant material. I've seen it suggested that they tend to do this, because they don't produce their own nest burrows. I have seen other solitary bees like Anthophora, returing to their nests to "roost", when the weather changes. I have photographed Nomadas clinging to plant stems in the past, but always wanted to get a shot like this; one holding on with just its mandibles.

Every morning I open the local village church and always have a look around for any photo opportunities. Today at 07.30 hours I was rewarded with this Nomada female "asleep" on a blade of grass. It was in a rather awkward position for photography, so I plucked the blade of grass and took it (and the bee) back home!

I positioned the blade of grass in a Wimberley Plamp (very useful macro accessory), to hold the grass stem still and positioned a potted plant behind to give a plain green background. The Nomada remained in position while I took a series of photographs. Be reassured though, no bees were harmed in the making of these images. I returned the bee to the churchyard (still clinging to the stem) when I had finished. I got a couple more shots before it fully woke and flew off.

I'm still getting to grips with identification of Nomadas and I'm not exactly sure what species this is. I'm pleased with the shot though!

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