Broad-banded Nomad bee in my garden!

Whenever the sun came out yesterday I was out in my garden in Exeter looking for bees and other wildlife. There were a couple of Nomad bees hawking over my lawn and I managed to get some reasonable photographs of them. Nomad bees are cleptoparasites, they lay their eggs in the nest cells of other bee species and their larvae feed off the host bees pollen stores (and the larvae / egg) meant for their own off-spring.

At first glance I thought it was Nomada flava, the Flavous Nomad Bee but it didn’t look quite right, it looked much more like Nomada signata, the Broad-banded Nomad Bee. I have a list of Devon bees and that suggested that N. signata was now extinct in the county. So I posted the pictures on Twitter, asked the question and tagged in Steven Falk, the bee expert and author of the excellent Field Guide to the Bees of Great Britain and Ireland.

All rather unexpected and exciting! I’ve now checked the National Biodiversity Network and see that the species was recorded from the Cullompton area in 2020. Very possible that this little is undergoing a range expansion, possibly as the result of climate change.

It is / was a pretty scarce species and it parasitises the nests of the common bee Andrena fulva, the Tawny Mining Bee which is a resident in my garden.

In recent years I have started managing my lawn as a mini hay meadow, letting it grow until around September when I then cut it. As a result it has a lot of wild flowers and quite a few bees!

There is Steven’s book if you haven’t seen it and are interested in identifying bees – it is excellent.

Here are a couple of full size images on Nomada signata, the Broad-banded Nomad Bee.

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