I have been asked several times this year about bees apparently swarming over and burrowing into a lawn. These are Mining Bees and I thought I would pass on some fascinating and reassuring facts from a Bumblebee Conservation Trust officer.
Mining Bees are a group of Solitary Bees (240+ species of Solitary Bee are native to the UK!). They do not live in colonies like Bumbles or Honeybees. A female mates and then buries her eggs, each one in a tunnel dug into soft, sandy soil and accompanied by a ball of pollen for food. Many bees dig close together where the ground is suitable but each one works independently. Once the eggs are in place, the female bee leaves them and does not return.
The reason for the mass of activity over your lawn in spring is that it is a full year before the new adult bees emerge. They are joined by females emerging from hibernation and preparing nest tunnels and males keen to mate. So for a few weeks from April you may see the entire local population. However once eggs are laid, the adults disperse to feed on flowers and peace is restored to your lawn whilst a bee miracle unfolds beneath.
In all there are 224 species of Solitary Bee in the UK, 25 species of Bumblebee and only 1 species of Honeybee. Solitary bees especially are hugely important pollinators for fruit and food crops so as gardeners we do well to support the bees that share our garden spaces by providing flowers in a wide range of shapes, sizes and colours from early spring right through to the autumn.
More about both Bumble & Solitary Bees www.bumblebeeconservation.org
Happy Gardening, Alison