Colletes hederae

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I had thought of going to Trench Wood today, in search of hummingbird hawkmoths and dragons, but in the event the morning ran away from me, as it often seems to now that I don’t have very much to do. Maybe tomorrow. Or next week.

Having failed to leave the village I thought that I should at least walk around it, to check the state of all the ivy hedges. Many of them haven’t yet started to bloom, but the flowers have opened in a couple of sunny spots, and these were busy with invertebrates doing competitive feeding. At just one section of west-facing hedgerow on the edge of a barley field I took over a hundred photos, including the two I’ve posted here and the five I’ve put on Facebook; and it was here that I found some ivy bees. An acquaintance tiptoed past while I was snapping away, and whispered that she’d been worried about making a noise and disturbing my subjects, but I replied that we were all so intent, it’s unlikely we’d have noticed if she’d set off fireworks.

I love ivy bees: they’re so dapper, and their teddy bear colouring always makes me want to stroke them. (I don’t stroke them, though I know a few people who probably try.) Females are about the size of a honey bee, and could be mistaken for one if you were being a bit dozy, or hadn’t brought your glasses out with you. Males are smaller and slimmer, and fresh ones like this are so distinctive that you couldn’t really confuse them with anything else. They’re quite skittish when there are females about, and even today when there weren’t they were pretty reactive, so I was lucky that this one was too busy eating to notice me homing in on him. There’s a better view of his mouthparts here.