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UK Nature  > Bees  > Andrena cineraria

Scientific Name:   Andrena cineraria
Common Name:   Ashy Mining Bee

Andrena cineraria, a solitary mining bee, is more commonly known as the Ashy Mining Bee. It is one of the most distinctive and obvious of all the spring flying solitary bee species over much of Britain and Ireland, and over recent years has been enjoying a marked increase in abundance in parts of its range. The females are black, and have two broad ashy grey hairbands across the thorax. The males are similar, but the thorax is entirely clothed with less dense grey hairs, and has a very pronounced tuft of white hairs on the lower face.

The bee has a single flight period each year and is on the wing from early April until early June; the males emerging well before the females. Peak activity coincides with the flowering periods of fruit trees such as Pear, Cherry and Apple. The bees are non-ggressive and safe with children.

Andrena cineraria nests are constructed in the ground, and the nest entrances are surrounded by a volcano-like mound of excavated spoil. Nests are often in dense aggregations in tended lawns, flower beds, mown banks and in sparsely vegetated field margins. The bee is common in gardens, parks, calcareous grassland, orchards and on the edges of cropped agricultural land. Pollen is collected from a wide range of plants which includes flowering trees and shrubs, weeds and garden species. In some areas, Andrena cineraria plays host to the uncommon cuckoo bee Nomada lathburiana.
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