27 June 2012
First record of a rare species of mining bee on Finglandrigg Wood National Nature Reserve (NNR)
Natural England has recorded the rare mining bee, Andrena ruficrus, for the first time at its Finglandrigg Wood NNR on the Solway plain, in north Cumbria. The bee, which is smaller than the top joint of your finger, is endangered in Britain and has only been found at one other site in Cumbria.
Unlike honeybees or bumblebees, mining bees don’t form social hives; they are solitary. After mating, the female – which is much bigger than the male – excavates an underground nest with several small chambers. Each chamber contains an egg with a mixture of pollen and nectar - when the eggs hatch, the larvae feed on the on the mixture until they emerge as adults in spring. Andrena ruficrus nests in sandy heath habitats and normally emerges in late March or early April to feed on sallow blossom.
Reserve Manager, Colin Auld said “We’d been clearing scrub from a bank to improve the habitat, and a local naturalist spotted the bees, counting 25 males and three females there - we’re lucky to have so many volunteers for our species recording. Mining bees aren’t aggressive and very rarely sting, so don’t be afraid to visit the Reserve and see them for yourselves.”
National Insect Week runs from 25 June to 1 July and aims to raise the profile of Great British insects. There are plenty of resources on the National Insect Week website to help you find out more about our fascinating six-legged friends and plenty of events to get you up and close and personal with them.
Notes to editors
For further information, please contact Lyndon Marquis, email@example.com, 0300 060 4236
Finglandrigg Wood is one of the largest areas of semi-natural woodland on the Solway Plain and includes woodland, peat bog, heathland and rough pasture, that is carefully managed through grazing, planting and coppicing. Red squirrel, roe deer, brown hare and wood mouse can be seen here as well as the more elusive badger and otter. The site has over 40 species of breeding birds including buzzard, tawny owl, willow tit, grasshopper warbler, reed bunting, garden warbler and long-tailed tit. Insect life is plentiful, with small pearlbordered fritillary, purple hairstreak and ringlet butterflies often seen in summer. You may also find the notable forester and silver hook moths. Uncommon plants include the small gorse, petty whin, bell heather and Sphagnum mosses. There are a number of interpretive panels around the site explaining the wildlife, history and management.