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Suffolk Natural History, Vol. 37

Aculeate Hymenoptera Recorder’s Annual Report 2000 Since being appointed as co-recorder for Aculeate Hymenoptera in the early summer of 2000 one of us (AK) has been attempting to gather together information on previous aculeate recording in Suffolk. It would appear that there has been relatively little, if any, systematic recording of the county’s aculeate hymenoptera since the days of Claude Morley, some 60+ years ago. However, more modern site-specific records are coming to light from a number of national authorities, most notably a comprehensive survey of the Elveden Center Parcs by Steven Falk, which has so far identified over 170 species from the site. Dr Mike Archer, Mike Edwards and one of us (PL) have also undertaken specific contract work, mainly in the Brecks and Sandlings. Mike Edwards has summarised his findings in a previous volume of this journal (Edwards, 1998) whilst Mike Archer’s study was published by the then Nature Conservancy Council (Archer, 1987) and the most interesting records from work at RAF Mildenhall were reported last year (Lee, 2000). One of the first tasks we are undertaking is to collate all previous records of aculeate hymenoptera from Suffolk, including this survey data, to produce a preliminary “checklist” of species for the county towards the end of 2001. A surprising result of this early research has been the number of species already recorded from Suffolk that are unknown from seemingly suitable habitat in neighbouring Essex. These include the minute ant, Tetramorium caespitum, which has been seen at Shingle Street, Sutton Common and Toby’s Walks, Walberswick and doubtless occurs at many Sandlings sites in between, and the digger wasp, Oxybelus mandibularis, taken at Toby’s Walks and also previously recorded at Wangford and Cavenham in the Brecks (see Edwards (1998) for further comments on this species). Although a combination of bad weather and busy workloads conspired to curtail plans for fieldwork during 2000, an interesting start was made. The expanses of Sutton Common have been a great attraction to aculeate workers over the years and have already yielded some very interesting results as a result of recording in 2000. Two RDB3 species have been recorded thus far: the five-banded digger wasp (Cerceris quinquefasciata) which is the subject of both national and local Biodiversity Action Plan initiatives, and the nomadbee, Nomada fulvicornis. Several Nationally Notable species have also been taken, including the specialist heathland mining bee, Andrena nigriceps, along with the bees Andrena bimaculata, Andrena tibialis and Hylaeus pictipes. Another noteworthy species, the median wasp (Dolichovespula media), has also been found on the site. This is a large social wasp, easily mistaken for a small hornet. It was first recorded from Britain in 1980 since when it has spread rapidly. Originally given RDB3 status (Shirt, 1987), this was reduced to Nationally Notable by Falk (1991) and although this remains its official status the median wasp is now quite common across much of England and Wales. Areas of loose, sandy ground, in the patches of open heath that still remain on the site, appear to attract the small grey mining bee, Andrena barbilabris, regarded as “Local” in the country as a whole and likely to be greatly under-recorded in Suffolk.

Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 37 (2001)


NOTES ACULEATE ON SOME HYMENOPTERA SUFFOLK MOTHS, REPORT 2000

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Hornets (Vespa crabro) are relatively common and widespread in Suffolk and their occurrence would not normally be included in this report. However two incidents involving the species, both observed on 9 August 2000, seem worthy of a mention. The first observation was at Bridge Wood, Nacton where hornets were seen entering and leaving a nest hole in an old pollarded oak at the entrance to the wood. Whilst observing the activities of the hornets it was surprising to see a worker of the bumblebee, Bombus lucorum, enter the hole. Over the next twenty minutes further bumblebees of the same species entered and left the hole but never when hornets were present. It seems unlikely the two species were sharing the same nest cavity although it is possible there was a common entrance to different hollow cavities within the tree. We have not seen previous references to bumblebees sharing nest sites with hornets and would welcome further observations. The second incident occurred that same evening at Flatford Mill when, as part of a course on invertebrate surveying techniques, a moth trap was set up in the garden of Valley Farm. The light attracted large numbers of workers causing the trapping session to be abandoned. The light was switched off and the trap was left to allow the hornets to escape but even by the next morning a few still remained and had torn apart any other insect unfortunate enough to be in the trap when they arrived. The numbers of hornets at Flatford Mill became so great that later in the month the nest had to be destroyed for the safety of students. One of the important roles of a county recorder is to stimulate and nurture the interests of other SNS members and Arthur Watchman has already come forward (curiously, via an Essex Moth Group meeting) as a potentially interested surveyor with a large collection. One of us (AK) will now be helping Arthur to put names to his specimens during the course of the next year. A weekend course on bumblebee identification at Flatford Mill Field Studies Centre in June 2000 also attracted interest from SNS members and further courses are planned for the future. Even without specialist equipment or training important contributions can be made as is illustrated by the only Suffolk specimen of the cuckoo bee, Sphecodes ruficrus, which, in 1998, was casually picked up, dead, from the beach at Minsmere. As well as picking up dead specimens, members could also be on the look out for good nesting sites for hymenoptera. These need not be that large, sometimes small bare faces of road cuttings, old sand pits or even piles of spoil will do, so if any members are aware of such sites they feel would be worth investigating, please get in contact with either of us. References Archer, M. E. (1987). The wasps and bees (Hymenoptera: Aculeata) of the Breckland and Suffolk Sandlings: the first 28 visits. Contract Surveys No. 8, Nature Conservancy Council. Edwards, M. (1998). Wasps and bees (Hymenoptera) in the Suffolk Sandlings and management for the conservation of these insects. Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 34: 80–86. Falk, S. J. (1991) A review of the scarce and threatened bees, wasps and ants of Great Britain.

Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 37 (2001)


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Research and Survey in Nature Conservation No. 35. Nature Conservancy Council. Lee, P. (2000). Aculeate Hymenoptera Recorder’s Report 1999. Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 36: 101. Shirt, D. B. (1987). British Red Data Books 2: Insects. Nature Conservancy Council, Peterborough. Adrian Knowles 12 Blackbrook Road, Great Horkesley, Colchester, CO6 4TL Paul Lee 155 Corton Road, Lowestoft NR32 4PR

Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 37 (2001)

Aculeate Hymenoptera Recorder’s Annual Report 2000  

Paul Lee

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