I’m now attracting strange looks from the neighbours as I stare at the patio in my back garden, – not the first place you’d think of to discover wildlife. An insect was darting around the holes dug between the patio slabs. I eventually identified this surprisingly well-camouflaged little insect as a Fabricius’ Nomad Bee (Nomada fabriciana).
It’s tiny and easily missed, with a forewing length of only 5.5-8mm. The orange and black banding on the antennae make this a female. The abdomen is a striking red with a pair of yellow spots, which are just visible under the folded wings (above). I managed to get a couple more photos showing off the bright abdomen, when she was flying close to the ground.
Despite looking more like a wasp, this is indeed a species of bee, which if you’re ever bored you can ‘easily’ differentiate as bees have branched body hairs. Nomad Bees are often confused as they are relatively hairless with bold wasp-like markings. Nomad Bees are cleptoparasites, laying an egg in an unsealed nest cell of another bee species, which then hatches and eats the host egg or grub and their food store.
The Fabricius’ Nomad Bee is a cleptoparasite to Mining Bees (which probably dug the nest holes between the patio slabs). The next challenge is to identify the illusive Mining Bees……
Senior Ranger Stuart