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Andrena florea Fabricius, 1793 new to Suffolk Adrian Knowles In 1936, Claude Morley described the mining bee Andrena florea as “abundant in spring” (Morley, 1936). There are, however, problems with this statement. Firstly, this bee is active from late May until early July – not exactly “spring”. Secondly, the national distribution of this species has always been extremely limited (Fig. 1, taken from BWARS, 2015). It barely extends much north of the River Thames, although it is known from a reasonable number of sites from those Essex districts bordering the Thames Estuary (Essex Field Club, 2015). Thirdly, whilst there are approximately 12 specimens held in the Ipswich Museum collection under the name Andrena florea, none of these specimens is actually that species. As a result of these facts, I long ago decided that Morley was □ Pre 1980 confusing this species with A. ■ 1980-1999 trimmerana (Kirby, 1802) or maybe A. ■ 2000 and later rosae Panzer, 1801. These spring flying Figure 1. Distribution of Andrena florea. species also have orange-red markings From BWARS, 2015. Powered by NBN. on the anterior parts of the abdomen. A. florea is one of only a few British bees that collect pollen from a single flower source, in this case White Bryony Bryonia dioica. For years I have spent time at work and at home in north-east Essex, diligently keeping an eye out for this bee on White Bryony flowers, confident that it must surely eventually creep up away from the Thames estuary. On 18 June of this year I was proved correct, but I did not expect it to overshoot and turn up in south-east Suffolk. On that day, I had been undertaking field survey work on the Shotley peninsula and having finished earlier than expected, I decided to do a bit of bee hunting around Shotley Gate. After prowling unsuccessfully around the security fencing surrounding the former HMS Ganges site, I turned my attention to the strip of coastal woodland to the south-west of the village. Although I was aware of plentiful White Bryony around the village, I did not take any specimens directly from its flowers. However, when processing the day’s catch at home that evening, it became apparent that I had taken two specimens of what appeared to be A. florea females. I am grateful to Peter Harvey of the Essex Field Club for confirming my identification.

Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 51 (2015)


Suffolk Natural History, Vol. 51

Andrena florea female. Josef Dvorak for BWARS

This discovery raises the prospect that A. florea now inhabits suitable habitat between here and Barling near Southend-on-Sea in Essex – its nearest known locality, albeit some 51 km to the south-west. Inevitably, there is the question, “how long has it been at Shotley Gate?” There is always the possibility that a fledgling colony has started here from a female blown northwards from her homeland, with the prospect that the unfavourable environmental conditions will not suit it in the long run and it may die out. Figure 1 shows a very precise and sharply defined distribution within south-east England, which suggests that environmental conditions could well play a part in limiting its spread. I hope to revisit the area in 2016 to at least determine whether or not it is surviving in the short term. References BWARS, 2015., accessed 1st August 2015. Bees, Wasps and Ants Recording Society. Essex Field Club, 2015. s/Andrena+florea, accessed 1 August 2015. Morley, C. (1936). The Hymenoptera of Suffolk, Portio Secunda. Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 3: 132–162. A. Knowles Jessups Cottage, London Road, Capel St Mary, Suffolk, IP9 2JR

Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 51 (2015)

Andrena florea Fabricius, 1793 new to Suffolk  

Adrian Knowles

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