Seeing the Woods

A blog by the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society

Snapshot: Busy Urban Mining Bees

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Andrena probably cineraria

Andrena mining bee (probably Andrena cineraria) looking for a nest tunnel on a street verge in Munich. Photograph: Harriet Windley

The warm temperatures we saw here in Munich at the beginning of April were likely the trigger for the frantic mating spectacle of Andrena mining bees. These busy little bees overwinter in burrows and over the course of a few days in spring, the adults emerge to reproduce. A frenzy ensues as the males wrestle each other to catch and mate with the emerging females. The females dig new tunnels stocked with pollen and nectar in which to lay their eggs, which may then be infiltrated by other cleptoparasitic bee species. Mining bees prefer sandy and loose soils and, for this reason, are commonly found in tended lawns and verges in urban areas. The bee captured in the picture above seemed to be searching for a tunnel entrance amid human litter.

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