The Ivy Bee - Colletes hederae
Our Bee of the Month for September is the Ivy bee (Colletes hederae). This charming little bee is a recent colonist from the continent and is making significant gains in the UK. 15 years ago it was very scarce but it can now be found as far north as Northumberland.
An Ivy Bee female feeding from Ivy flowers
This attractive stripy bee emerges from its nine month hibernation in late August and early September and when it emerges, it seeks out Ivy blooms to collect nectar and pollen to provision its offspring.
These bees nest underground in burrows and can form impressive congregations with hundreds or thousands of females excavating their burrows close to one another, usually in loam or sandy soil. They collect pollen exclusively from Ivy and provision the pollen in their burrows. The burrows are sealed with a cellophane-like resin which is why they are sometimes referred to as plasterer bees.
Look out for these pretty little bees on ivy blooms during September and October.
You can help map their expansion in the UK by submitting any sightings to the Bee Wasps and Ants Recording Society here: