Colletes - Plasterer Bees
Updated: Sep 18, 2020
Photograph taken at The ORC site, Heading, Oxfordshire by C A Malin.
This is a furry solitary bee of medium size. Pollen is collected on the hind legs and the thorax in vast quantities. Most of the species nest in light soil, with some species forming large nesting sites. The tongue is short bilobed, meaning it is two-lobed and is used to line the nest cells with a cellophane-like substance which is both waterproof and fungus-resistant. An egg is attached to the upper cell wall, with a semi-liquid mixture of pollen and nectar in the base. There are nine known species of Colletes in Britain.
The term ‘solitary’ bee refers to the fact that the bees have no workers and live as individuals. Some solitary bees can live in large ‘aggregations’ or colonies. Colletes are mining bees and nest underground. These nest are usually in south facing earth banks that have been warmed by the sun. The females dig the burrow stock it with pollen/nectar mix and lays an egg. The lava develops and emerges as an adult a year later. Females will be seen delivering pollen to the nest site and the males will patrol the area for the chance to mate.
Colletes are not aggressive, the female has a sting but it is very unlikely that you would get stung. The sting usually is unable to penetrate human skin and if you do accidentally get stung (put you hand on a bee) then it is similar to a nettle sting