The Ashy Mining Bee - Andrena cineraria

06th April 2012
The Ashy Mining-bee (Andrena cineraria) is one of the most obvious and easily-recognised of all our solitary bees. It is found over much of Britain and Ireland and is apparently, increasing in numbers in many areas.

Both sexes are black, the males (image left) having grey/white hairs on their thorax and a thick tuft of white hairs on the lower face. The females are a little larger with two grey/white hairs bands across the thorax and some white hairs on the face. They are on the wing from early April to early June and are often found in gardens, nesting in lawns. They create their nest burrows in the ground, producing little volcano-like piles of excavated soil. Other Mining Bees do this too, though.





A female (image left), resting on my hand. In comparison with the male, the overall look is a little more robust. The two distinct bands of thoracic grey/white hairs can be seen, as can the longer and thicker pollen-carrying hairs on the hind legs. The white facial hairs are more evently distibuted and not concentrated into a "moustache" like in the males.

Females (like other Andrenas) also have twelve segments to their antennae and males thirteen. These can be difficult to count though.

See larger images of Andrena cineraria in the Photo Gallery here.

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