The cliff nesting Andrena thoracica

8th July 2008, Tuesday

Andrena thoracica female (Glyne Gap, East Sussex)

Andrena thoracica is one of the most impressive species of solitary bee in the UK. It’s large with bright foxy red hairs on the thorax and a polished black abdomen. The hind legs of an actively foraging female are also usually covered in bright yellow pollen as in the specimen in these photos taken at Glyne Gap recently. The pollen is probably a mix of many species as this species is widely polylectic.

Unfortunately this species has been lost from many of it’s inland heathland sites, but is still doing ok along the coasts of Wales, Cornwall, Devon and Dorset. In the south-east the species is quite restricted and in the RX area is more or less confined to the cliffs of Hastings Country Park Nature Reserve, Glyne Gap and Castle Hill were it nests in sandy vertical banks. The males are usually seen patrolling these banks at high speed.

Now is a good time to look for the species (on a warm, sunny day of course!) on bramble or wild carrot flowers and is on the wing in good numbers at the moment at Glyne Gap. This species seems to be especially numerous here.

Andrena thoracica female (Glyne Gap, East Sussex)