Colletes hederae - Summary of 2011 monitoring project
Colletes hederae enjoyed another year of colonisation, consolidation and advance in 2011. The northerly limits of its range were extended northward on two fronts. The first crop of records occurred in the unseasonally hot weather at the end of September, when numerous records started coming in from a suite of sandy sites to the south of Oxford, with particularly large nesting aggregations noted from Dry Sandford Pit. We also received records from Cheltenham (Gloucestershire) which represents the northernmost station for this bee in the UK to date.
Equally exciting was the discovery of Colletes hederae in Wales for the first time with records from 2 sites on the Gower and a further record from Porthcawl (all in Glamorgan).
Nico Vereecken sampled males of the bee from a series of 5 broad localities across the country, with specimens collected for DNA analysis from Cornwall, Wiltshire, Dorset, Oxfordshire and East Sussex. He aims to have a look at the population genetics of the species and to check for signs of in-breeding and to see if there are any clear signals on dispersal or information on the sources of the UK population.
As usual, there have been many contributors to the project, from BWARS members, and members of the wider public who are excited about the appearance and spread of this handsome species. Our especial thanks go to those who helped in specimen collection for the DNA work, the results of which can be anticipated during the course of 2012.
Stuart Roberts, 2011