An Andrena clarkella colony

19th March 2012
After hearing about an active Andrena clarkella colony at Warwickshire Wildlife Trust's Brandon Marsh nature Reserve, I set off to get some photographs.

The photographs (left to right) show Andrena clarkella female, Andrena clarkella male and A. clarkella's cuckoo bee; Nomada leucophthalma. The colony covered several square metres, on a bare sandy-soiled bank that captured the mid-morning sun. There were dozens of nest burrows and lots of bees. The Nomada bees are the specific "cuckoo" bees of A. clarkella. The one in the photograph is a female. They are cleptoparasites, in that they "steal" the host bee's nest; entering to lay their own eggs. When the eggs hatch, their larvae eat the host bee's eggs/larve and the food stores.

More Andrena clarkella images in the Gallery here ...

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