Tuesday 17 April 2012

Tawny Mining Bees

Well, spring seems to have gone into partial retreat and the cool temperatures have certainly limited the number of insects that I've seen. However, one small but particularly attractive bee has been busy in the brief spells of sunshine. At this time of year the Tawny Mining Bee is common in parks and gardens throughout much of the UK. The females dig holes, often in lawns, that can usually be spotted because of the mound of excavated soil that surrounds them. In these they will lay eggs which will emerge the following year.


A female Tawny Mining Bee on some heather in some recent sunshine

If you're patient you can watch them come and go from their holes. They're very industrious, not only excavating the holes but then laying eggs in them and stocking them with nectar and pollen for the newly emerged bees to feed on.

A female sat in the entrance to her nest hole

...and entering the nest hole

It is only the females that have the striking orange fur, the males are smaller and quite drab in comparison.

A male Tawny Mining Bee

but their pale facial hair does make the males quite photogenic!

Tawny Mining Bees are normally on the wing from early April until early June so they should be around for another few weeks.


  1. Matt - what stunning pictures and information. Congratulations and thank you. I learned something today that bees go underground. Cheers from New Zealand - Julie

  2. Can you tell me if this is a Male Tawny Mining bee, there were several of them in the polytunnel at work but these were flying into a dead sunflower curled up leaves and also around a hole in the wood, as with this one.


  3. Hello,

    To me that looks very much like a Red Mason Bee rather than a Tawny Mining Bee.

    best wishes