Andrena vaga Panzer,1799


Andrena pratensis MULLER 1776; Andrena ovina KLUG 1810; Andrena nitidiventris BLANCHARD 1850; Andrena atricula BISCHOFF 1922

Description and notes

This is a provisional species account.

Andrena vaga was rediscovered on the British mainland in April 2014, with sightings at Brownwich Cliff, Hampshire by G.R. Else and a sighting at Dungeness, Kent by R. Tidman. The species was observed again in 2015 at Dungeness and at a new locality in Dunorlan Park, Tunbridge Wells by Ian Beavis.


Subsequently, BWARS member Rosie Earwaker has discovered that A. vaga has been present at Dungeness since at least 2009 when specimens were collected and photos taken by the Dungeness Nature Reserve site manager. These were not identified until 2014.

BWARS would welcome records, preferably accompanied by a photo of the female.

Records can be submitted online HERE


Identification notes are given below


Until 2009, the species was known in Britain from only four records, mostly from south-east England: a male without locality, but considered to be British (R.C.L. Perkins, 1917) (UMZC); Kent, Deal; a male, 12th April, 1939, K.M. Guichard (Yarrow & Guichard, 1941) (BMNH); West Sussex, Bignor, female, 16th April, 1945, C.H. Andrewes (Andrewes, 1946) (BMNH); Kent, Folkestone, female, 12th April, 1946, G.B. Collins (Collins, 1946).

Recent records are from Dungeness and Dunorlan Park in Kent, and from Brownwhich Cliff, Hampshire.

Status (in Britain only)

Currently a rare species with records from just a handful of sites. It is possible that the species has recolonised southern England after an absence of nearly 70 years. A. vaga may become more widespread if it disperses in the manner of other recent arrivals (e.g. Colletes hederae and Bombus hypnorum). It has shown early signs of range expansion in Kent, having been recorded inland of Dungeness from near Tunbridge Wells in April 2015.


Andrena vaga is a black and greyish-white mining bee. This species could easily be overlooked as it is similar to the widespread A. cineraria (especially the males).

A. vaga is completely grey haired across the top of the thorax, whereas A. cineraria has an obvious black band across the middle of the thorax. See photos below.


Above: Andrena vaga female - photo R. Tidman

Above: Andrena cineraria female - photo J. Early


The species can be found in a number of habitats which support various species of Salix (Salicaceae). These include heathland edge and disused sand pits (Belgium), coastal areas with loose soil (Baie de Somme; France), to levees and flood plains (Beside the Rhine; Gemany).

Flight period

A univoltine species flying in the early spring - March and April.

Pollen collected

Oligolectic on Salicaceae. Westrich & Schmidt (1987) analysed 16 pollen loads from various sites in southern Germany and found these contained only Salix pollen. In the field these authors also observed females foraging for pollen exclusively from Salix, including S. purpurea and S. alba.

Nesting biology

British nests have been found at Dungeness (Kent), but none has been excavated.

The species generally nests in large aggregations in rather hard ground, amongst sparse vegetation on horizontal, even or sloping surfaces; the nest burrows are excavated vertically (Kocourek, 1966). Vleugel (1947) describes the nesting habits of this species in detail; his nesting aggregation was in a very steep slope. Extremely extensive nesting aggregations (exceptionally 10,000 nests in one site) occur along the Rhine, West Germany (Bischoff, 2003; Fellendorf, Mohra & Paxton, 2004).

Flowers visited

There are no British flower records


In mainland Europe A. vaga is host of the cleptoparasitic bee Nomada lathburiana.

Author of profile

Provisional profile compiled by Stuart Roberts and Nigel Jones

Year profile last updated