Nomad Bees and a possible Nomada flava

possible nomada flava small

Almost two years ago I wrote a blog post about the ‘Silent Summer’ – the looming loss of bees and other insects from the British countryside. In that post I mentioned Nomada signata, one of a fascinating group of about thirty small, wasp-like species of bee that are kleptoparasites on mining bees. Signata is a nationally rare species that kleptoparasites the Tawny Mining Bee Andrena fulva, and I’d photographed a female (without having a clue to its identification – that came via Stuart Roberts, chair of the excellent BWARS) in my garden in late-April.

nomada signata
Female Nomada signata, Great Chalfield, April 2010

I’ve been looking for Nomad bees again this spring, hoping of course to find another signata. There were masses of mining bees around early in the month (which is when I posted an image I’d taken of the Nationally Notable Dotted Bee-fly Bombylius discolor) and things looked quite hopeful until the change in the weather of last week. It’s horrible outside and if there are any bees around there’s no way I’m going to get soaked looking for them…

Anyway, I did manage to find a Nomada here at Great Chalfield last week, just before the rain closed in for the rest of the month – though I doubt that it’s identifiable to species based on the photos below. Not only was it in woodland edge under grey skies, meaning it was difficult to get a decent depth-of-field, the bee is covered in pollen from a dandelion which – given how tricky these things can be – is probably covering up some vital identification feature (or coloured it yellow). I think it’s probably Nomada flava which is widespread roughly south of a line from the Mersey to the Humber, and virtually indistinguishable from the even more widely distributed (and dramatically named) N. panzeri. I suspect this will have to be listed as Nomada sp., but I could be completely wrong of course and I’d welcome any comments either way.


possible nomada flava, great chalfield

possible nomada flava, great chalfield

possible nomada flava, great chalfield

possible nomada flava, great chalfield

possible nomada flava, great chalfield


All images copyright Charlie Moores/Talking Naturally

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About the author

Passionate about animal welfare and conservation, veggie and dairy-free, I live in the Wiltshire (UK) countryside. I co-founded Birders Against Wildlife Crime and Birds Korea. Trustee of the League against Cruel Sports On Twitter @charliemoores

One Comment

  1. Lovely photos, Charlie, no need for ‘depth of field’ protestations!
    Fascinating the world of kleptoparasitism and other such antics going on under our noses amid the dandelion petals!
    We bumped into kleptoparasitism in the Caribbean watching magnificent frigatebirds mobbing red-foot boobies. They yanked their tail feathers and hung unto the their legs until the poor critters regurgitated their fishy stomach contents into the gaping mouths of the frigates!
    Would be good to zoom into these Nomada’s lives to see how they acost the poor mining bees?!

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