Colletes hederae FAQ's
>>What is an Ivy Bee?
The Ivy Bee is a species of mining bee that was first recorded in Britain in 2001. As the name suggests, it forages almost exclusively at flowers of Ivy, and flies only from September to mid-November (ie during the flowering period of Ivy).
>> What are they doing in my lawn?
These bees are nesting in the lawn. The nesting aggregations are often dense and the number of nests can get as large as 10's of thousands. They prefer loose soil.
>>Do these bees sting?
Well.... the females can sting, but to get them to do this you'd have to pick them up and squeeze them. I have sat in the midst of nesting aggregations of tens of thousands of these bees and never been touched, let alone stung. The vast majority of the bees in these so-called swarms are males, and have no sting whatsoever. They are swarming over the ground on the look out for emerging females. Basically, C. hederae is all but completely safe with children and pets
>>Will they reappear on the lawn next year?
Yes... they have a flight period of about 6 weeks in the Autumn. That's it each year
>>Is it a protected species?
No... the bees are not protected. However, in view of the overall decline of so many bee species, coupled with the fact that these are a new colonist to this island, and they are bucking the general population trends, destruction is completely unnecessary. The advice is simply "enjoy them - not everyone is so lucky that they have a nesting aggregation in their lawns". They are important pollinators of Ivy, a plant which provides valuable food for birds in the late winter.
>>How can they be destroyed/prevent a similar occurrence next year?
I think you can guess what the answer will be here. Councils will not destroy the bees and destruction of such a wonderful and harmless species, a species whose nesting behaviour is one of the truly spectacular examples of "wild nature" in Britain is to be strongly discouraged. They are absolutely not a danger. Live and let live
>>Is there any further information available?
BWARS has prepared an Information Sheet. BWARS is also conducting a mapping project again this year to plot the spread year on year, and so all data on distribution is very gratefully received. The relevant webpages are at http://www.bwars.com/index.php?q=content/colletes-hederae-mapping-project . It would be wonderful if these could be circulated in response to any queries you get.