• Name: Ashy mining bee | Andrena cineraria
  • Size: 13-15mm (females generally larger than males)
  • Life span: 6-8 weeks  
  • Diet: Nectar and pollen provided for larvae
  • Reproduction: The Ashy mining bee is a solitary bee, meaning they do not work together and live and feed alone.  They nest in burrows, where the female will lay eggs in brood cells filled with nectar and pollen
  • When to see: Spring and Summer (March to June)
  • Where to see: Is common in coastal localities in southern Britain, but is also known from a number of inland sites.  The Ashy mining bee is a new-comer to Scilly, first being recorded in April 2021!  For that reason locations to see are currently sparse but include Holy Vale, St Mary's and Blue Carn, St Mary's.    
  • Conservation status: Common
  • Population Trend: Not regarded as scarce or threatened in the UK
  • Threats:  Loss of habitat, climate change (changes in weather patterns, changing temperatures),  
  • Fun Fact: The entrance to the Ashy mining bees burrow is often marked by a small mound of excavated soil; like a mini-molehill.  Unlike other mining bee species, Ashy mining bees are known to close their burrow entrance when they’ve finished foraging for the day, and also when it rains!

Description: Ashy mining bees are a Honey bee sized bee and one of the most distinctive solitary bees, with striking black and grey/white markings. 

Females have a glossy black abdomen that can look blueish in certain light. These cute fluffies, have two distinct bands of light grey hair across the top and bottom of the thorax, and white hair on the face.  Males have similar markings to females, although they are smaller and not quite as noticeable; they have more obvious light hairs along the side of the thorax and also at the top of the abdomen.

Ordinarily found in various open sunny places, particularly on sites with sandy soil, including coastal areas, moorlands, river banks, open woodlands, as well as gardens and urban areas.

Females create nests underground by digging burrows in bare/sparsely vegetated earth; the burrow is excavated to a depth of 10-20 cm with two to three cells per nest.

They feed from a wide variety of spring flowers and shrubs, including buttercups, hawthorn, blackthorn, gorse and fruit trees.

Want to know more?  If you want to help us find out more regarding the distribution of this species please report and record your sightings (with pictures) via the general iRecord App or to the Bees, Wasps & Ants recording Society (BWARS) Ashy mining bee recording scheme.

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With thanks to BareFoot Photographer for the Ashy mining bee image