Tiny Golden Bees

29th March 2012
I mentioned in an earlier Blog post this month, that I'm fortunate enough to have a Mining Bee (Andrena nigroaenea) colony in my tiny front garden. I was checking on this colony on the 29th March when I noticed another much smaller insect (around 5-6mm long) flitting around too. One was even appropached by an A. nigroaenea male. I sat quietly; camera at the ready, until one landed close to me. I was really surprised when the insect came into focus to see that it was a tiny gold-coloured bee.

I had seen a similar bee once before; in my back garden last year. I had identified that as a possible Lasioglossum. With these much better photographs and a live specimen, I was able to get the identity confirmed as Lasioglossum smeathmanellum. The genus Lasioglossum is the largest bee genus worldwide with many hundreds of species. They are highly variable in size, colouration and shape and mainly nest in the ground. Inland, Lasioglossum smeathmanellum is frequently reported as nesting in the soft mortar of old walls. My front garden has a narrow strip of east-facing sandy soil and the house has an old wall, with may areas of soft mortar. Seems ideal!

See larger images of Lasioglossum smeathmanellum in the Image Gallery.

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