This all black Honeybee sized solitary bee is one of our largest Andrena bees and has a very restricted range and distribution in the UK. Common and found in a wide variety of habitats on the continent, south to North Africa and East as far as Russia in the UK it is largely restricted to southern coastal habitats and sandy urban sites in East London and the Thames Estuary.
A Female Black Mining bee
This bee is bivoltane which means it has 2 generations a year with the spring generation found in April and May and a second generation active in July and August. The spring generation are largely dependent upon blackthorn and other flowering shrubs alongside brassica and mustard flowers. The summer generation can often be found visiting knapweeds, scabious and umbellifers like Hogweed.
These bees need sandy banks and cliffs to excavate their nest burrows. They've recently been found nesting in a sandy bank opposite the London Aquatics centre in the Olympic Park-a site which until 2012 was industrial waste ground but has been transformed in to flower rich habitat with plenty of sandy mounds for bees to nest in. This site also hosts the recently found rare Brown Banded Carder bee and Very rare Long Horn Bees. So it's true - if you build it - those bees will come!