11 May 2015

Deep Slade Soft Cliff

The weather on Saturday eventually relented enough to allow exploration of the cliffs south and east of Southgate. Flowers now starting to bloom in profusion.

This Melecta albifrons female was working the holes in the muddier bits of soft cliff in Deep Slade looking for places to lay in the nests of Anthophora plumipes, of which there was no sign. Interesting that the holes were not sealed, at least on the surface.
 This poor little bee, a species of Sphecodes, has picked up more than the normal load of little cling ons. These are the larvae of Meloe proscarabaceus (Oil Beetle) which wait for bee visitors to flowers and then hang on for dear life to be transported back to the nest where they eat the pollen destined for the bee's young. I am amazed that one of these big fat insects could get enough food from this tiny species to mature into an adult let alone the many gathered here. Do they roam as larvae picking food up from a number of bee brood cells?
There were quite a few of this Halictus rubicundus at the very bottom of the cliff. Unfortunately I suspect this was what I saw in the middle of January and not Andrena ovatula, no photo or specimen unfortunately.This is a relatively unusual "solitary" bee as it is not solitary. Queens give rise to workers in April/May and males and new queens emerge from July to October just like any other Eusocial species. So much still to learn!


Charles Hipkin said...

I'm amazed that a bee with so many oil beetle larvae on its back can get airborne. Great photos (as usual).

i.f.tew said...

Guess it flew DOWN, I found it below the soft cliff staggering around on the ground. This bit of behaviour might well be an evolutionary dead end!