Gold-fringed Mason Bee (Osmia aurulenta)
Having recently featured the snail nesting rare Red-tailed Mason bee, it seems appropriate to feature one of the two other 'helicophile' (snail-nesting) bees, the third being Osmia spinulosa, the 'Spined Mason bee'.
The Gold-fringed Mason bee appears to be a predominently a southern and western coastal species where, from April to August it favours coastal dunes, vegetated shingle, soft-rock cliffs and well-grazed coastal grasslands as well as chalk downland and calcareous brownfield sites.
Unlike the O. bicolor, O. aurulenta is less secretive over their nest building.
The female constructs cells within an abandoned snail shell using leaf mastic and provisions each cell with pollen and nectar before laying a single egg in each.
She then seals the shell with more leaf mastic, but rather than hide the shell under a pile of twigs etc. she painstakenly decorates the outside of the filled shell with even more leaf mastic, as if to show how proud she is of her accomplishment.
This of course does leave the nests more exposed to predators such as the parasitic Sapygid wasp 'Sapyga quinquepunctata'.
O. aurulenta are also known to burrow underground to build a nest.