Ivy Bee Colletes hederae

Family Colletidae (Plasterer bees) » Colletes hederae Schmidt & Westrich, 1993

Forewing length 8-10 mm. This is the largest of the UK banded Colletes species. It looks similar to a Honey Bee with an orangey-brown, hairy thorax, and distinct black and yellow stripes on its abdomen. It nests in loose soil, favouring sparsely vegetated south-facing banks, and aggregations can be huge in suitable locations with thousands of nests. Pollen is collected almost exclusively from Ivy which must be available near to the nest sites. The last solitary bee to emerge in the year, and Britain’s only true autumn bee, it can be seen from late August through and into November. This species was only described as new to science in 1993, and it was first recorded in the UK in 2001. It is now widespread along most of the south coast, south Wales and East Anglia, and extending its range steadily northwards.

Species identification confirmed and recorded by an expert from iRecord.

Discovered on Common Ivy (Hedera helix), local woodland margin, South Staffordshire. September 2021. © Peter Hillman.