A bee on a bramble leaf, photographed by DKG on a hot May morning.

We don’t know what sort of bee this is and we have sent its picture away to a man who will know. Our best guess, though, is that it is some kind of solitary bee. Of the 270 species of bee in the Britain, just under 250 of them are solitary bees so the odds are good.

Our solitary bees in Britain are very diverse, therefore so are their nesting habits. The majority nest in the ground, digging nest chambers at the end of a tunnel. The female builds the nest alone; she puts pollen in each chamber and lays an egg. She then seals off that section of the nest before moving on and digging another chamber.

In suitable sites you often find the nests of hundreds of a particular species. These are very noticeable in the spring when the hibernating females emerge, leaving many little pyramids of soil all over a patch of usually bare, usually sunny ground.

Some solitary bees nest above ground, in old beetle holes, in the gaps in an old wall, in cracks and crannies anywhere. They seal the nests with saliva, mixed with mud and chewed leaves. These are the species that take up your offer of residence in your garden’s bug hotel.

Finally there are the snail shell nesting bees, of which we have three species in Britain. They use chewed up leaves to seal off each section in the empty nest shells and often camouflage the shell in some way

All our bees, here in Britain, are in trouble; the populations of all species are believed to be falling rapidly. Everybody knows about bumble bees and honey bees but we need to be more aware of the many species of other kinds of bees, all of them important pollinators that we cannot afford to lose.

More bees here:

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