This bee was first identified in the UK in 2001 and can be found foraging on ivy, in full flower, from September onwards. The ivy’s late flowering season makes it an important source of food for bees before Winter and on sunny days, you will find ivy bees (and other bees) in abundance on any common ivy plant.
These bees are the last solitary species to emerge in the year and appear around mid-September until November. Females will lay their eggs during this period and these eggs will pupate and hatch into adults underground and stay dormant until the next Autumn. The ivy bee is a species of mining bee and they nest in single burrows on south facing sandy banks and cliffs in quite large colonies. They can also be found in lawns if the soil conditions are right, but these bees are quite harmless near children and pets. The males don’t possess a sting at all, and the females are very rarely interested in combat!
If you suspect you have mining bees of any species, keep your grass or vegetation extremely short so they burrow more efficiently and form their colonies. You may miss your nicely manicured lawn, but you’ll be giving nature a helping hand which is much more important. If you think you have ivy bees specifically, add your sightings to the BWARS survey (link at the bottom) and help map the progress of this interesting new species. Ivy bees are quite easy to identify with their fuzzy ginger thorax, and bold orange and dark bands on their abdomen. They haven’t quite made it to the Midlands yet but there have been sightings in Shropshire. Here’s hoping!