Ashy mining bee

Andrena cineraria

The ashy mining bee or grey mining bee, ''Andrena cineraria'', is a European species of the sand bee genus. Its distinctive colouring makes it one of the most easily recognised of the genus. The females are black, with two broad grey hair bands across the thorax. The male is also black although the thorax is entirely covered with grey hairs. The male has a tuft of white hairs on the lower face and white hairs on all femora while the female has white hairs only on the front femora. The female has twelve segments to their antennae and the male has thirteen.

The ashy mining bee is common and widespread throughout Europe. ranging from Ireland across central Europe and into Scandinavia. They are common throughout the United Kingdom although less frequent in northern Scotland. Generally docile, they are considered safe around children and pets. The ashy mining bee flies from April until early June, most noticeably during the flowering periods of fruit trees, of which they are an important pollinator. They are also commonly seen hovering just above the ground after mating in spring. Following mating, the male dies and the female starts to build a nest. Each female has her own nest and the ashy mining bee is therefore classified amongst solitary bees. They prefer to nest in tended lawns, flowerbeds, parkland, calcareous grassland, orchards and on the borders of agricultural land.
Ashy Mining Bee Never seen one of these before. There's a beautiful bush in our front garden that is covered in white flowers. I spotted about 6 different species of bee enjoying it as I walked past but this one caught my eye as it was a little more shy than the rest. Took a (slightly out of focus) picture and managed to identify it. Can't tell if this is the male or female. Still, always nice to see a friendly bee doing well. Andrena cineraria,Ashy mining bee,Geotagged,Spring,United Kingdom

Reproduction

The nest is a simple burrow with several brood cells branching off it. The entrances to the burrows are identifiable by the conical mounds of excavated spoil on the surface. The female fills the brood cells with a mixture of nectar and pollen, and lays one egg in each cell. The larva hatches within a few days, grows quickly and pupates within a few weeks. The adults emerge the following spring after hibernation. The male emerges before the female. The nests are frequently invaded by cleptoparasitic "cuckoo bees."

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Taxonomy
KingdomAnimalia
DivisionArthropoda
ClassInsecta
OrderHymenoptera
FamilyAndrenidae
GenusAndrena
SpeciesA. cineraria
Photographed in
United Kingdom