Osmia bicornis

This morning was very wet and stormy, but the thunderstorms cleared around lunch time and the afternoon was mostly warm and sunny – though scudding clouds still blew through and changed the light quite dramatically from time to time. The garden was busy with insects, making up for lost time, but luckily for my purposes many of them started the afternoon wet and cold, which slowed them down and allowed me time to get in close with the macro.

Osmia bicornis is a charming little bee, I think, but not usually cooperative in posing for photos. This is quite a fresh, as well as quite a damp, male; females are similar but bigger, and have rather square heads, with dark hair, and a pair of inward-curving horns below the antennae which they use for modelling the mud from which they construct their nest cells. The bright red pile on the abdomen fades very quickly in both sexes, and then they become somewhat nondescript, and given that they’re also fast and restless feeders they can be hard to spot and identify.

There is a good Wikipedia page about Osmia bicornis here, with some interesting facts and figures. The BWARS species account is here, and includes a short film of females “mining” mud for their nests. Steven Falk’s species account is here.

My extra, which was taken at the end of the afternoon, shows a female Andrena nigroaenea feeding on tayberry flowers. I think this is a beautiful bee, and deserves a better common name than the one it has, which is the Buffish Mining Bee.