Andrena wilkella – Wilke’s Mining Bee

This is a Most Likely Species. Andrena species can be very hard to tell apart. What makes us think this may be A. wilkella is partly due to size and appearance, but also due to discounting the next most similar species based on habitat type.

A. wilkella can apparently be confused with A. ovatula, but literature suggests this latter species is more associated with coastal / gorse type habitats. It is also less common than A. wilkella, which is known to visit gardens.

The band of hairs shown above on the inside of each eye is distinctive of Andrena species. A. wilkella is known to have orange hind tibia’s, the third tergite band has a broken white fringe of hairs and the abdomen is tinted orange (in A. ovatula it is more brown).

These guys only have one brood a year, and numbers peak around May / June, which is about right as well. This little fella landed on my hand on the 4th June 2021 and stuck around for a minute or two, and didn’t seem at all bothered by my fussing over taking photographs of it.

They like to gather pollen from legumes and nectar from things like umbellifers, as do hoverflies, so introducing some to the garden is becoming a bit of a priority. Perhaps it’s time to grow some fennel.

DC 18/12/2021