Little volcanos


As spring slowly brings our nature reserves to life you may spot these tiny mounds of earth in the grass or on patches of  bare earth. They are the nests of the Tawny Mining bee which build their nests at this time of year. The nest consists of a vertical shaft 8-12 inches long with several brood cells branching off. The female fills each cell with a mixture of nectar and pollen on which she lays one egg. The larvae quickly develops and begins pupating, to emerge as an adult the following spring.

This all sounds like a good plan however we are not the only ones who notice these nests! Bee flies are notorious for flying over the nests and flicking their own eggs in to the entrance. These eggs then develop into maggot like larvae which wriggle in to the prepared cells to continue developing in comfort. Cuckoo bees, Nomad bees and many solitary wasps have also developed strategies to exploit the Tawny mining bees nest sites. The picture was taken Barnwell West nature reserve.

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