Colletes floralis Eversmann,1852


Colletes montanus MORAWITZ 1876; Colletes suecica AURIVILLIUS 1903; Colletes kudiensis COCKERELL 1924; Colletes yasumatsui HIRASHIMA & IKUDOME 1989


This species was originally found for the first time in the British Isles in south-west Scotland in July 1899 (Saunders, 1899), the record being published under the name Colletes montanus). However, it is most widely distributed in the Western Isles and especially in Ireland. Indeed, it is the only bee that is more widespread in that country than in Britain. On mainland Scotland this mining bee has been recorded from Dumfries and Galloway (Tons Warren), Argyll (Macrihanish Dunes, Kintyre (S Miles pers. comm.)) and Strathclyde (Irvine Moor, near Ayr). It is still present (2010) at Irvine Moor (B & S Little, pers. comm.). However, it is more widely distributed on the islands off the west coast: Colonsay and Tiree (Strathclyde), and Barra, South Uist and Benbecula (Western Isles). Published, but unconfirmed, records of Colletes daviesanus from Pabbay north to Lewis (Western Isles), and from Coll, Tiree and Rum (Heslop Harrison 1952) almost certainly refer to C. floralis. In England, the bee was collected at Sandscale Haws, Cumbria, by M E Archer on 18 July 1994 (the first English record). The species is very widely distributed on the coast of Ireland, with records from Dublin, Wicklow, Wexford, Waterford, Cork, Kerry, Clare, Galway, Mayo, Sligo, Donegal and Derry. The bee has also been found on the islands of Cape Clear (Cork) and Great Saltee (Wexford). In addition, it is known from some inland sites in Wexford, Kilkenny, Galway and Cavan.

Status (in Britain only)

Not listed in the British Red Data Book (Shirt 1987), but Falk (1991) has proposed that it should be included in future editions as Rare (pRDB3).


Mainly coastal sand dunes and, in the Western Isles, the machair (a maritime grassland typical of the Hebrides, comprising a rich flowering sward established on wind-blown shell sand). In Ireland, the species has been found nesting in sandy clays along cliffs, in marram dunes and in the interstices of the masonry of a bridge (Stelfox, 1927, 1933).

Flight period

Single-brooded; mid-June to early August.

Pollen collected

Polylectic: with pollen from at leat 10 plant families recorded: Apiaceae, Asteraceae, Brassicaceae, Campanulaceae, Caryophyllaceae, Chenopodiaceae, Fabaceae, Gentianaceae, Lamiaceae and Rosaceae, although plants in the family Apiaceae are generally preferred.

Müller & Kuhlmann (2008) list as pollen sources: Apiaceae, Cistaceae, Crassulaceae, Resedaceae, Campanulaceae, Brassicaceae and Carduoideae (Asteraceae) based on 15 pollen loads from 13 different localities.

Specific pollen records are of Daucus carota, Heracleum sphondylium, Eryngium maritimum, Pastinaca sativa (Apiaceae) Centaurea nigra, Hypochoeris radicata, Senecio jacobaea (Asteraceae), Jasione montana (Campanulaceae), Thymus polytrichus (Lamiaceae) and Rubus caesius (Rosaceae) (Westrich, 2001).

Finnish flower records are of Heracleum, Aegopodium (Apiaceae) and Geranium (Geraniaceae) (Söderman & Leinonen, 2003).

Fiedler (unpublished) reported that on the Scottish island of Islay pollen from the following species as present in the scopae of females: Thymus (Lamiaceae)(34% of pollen); Trifolium repens (Fabaceae)(23% of pollen); Erodium cicutarium (Geraniaceae); Ranunculus sp. (Ranunculaceae); Galium verum (Rubiaceae); Cirsium sp., Sonchus sp., Achillea millefolium (Asteraceae); Cardamine pratensis (Brassicaceae); Euphrasia (Scrophulariaceae); Rosa pimpinellifolia (Rosaceae); Plantago sp. (Plantaginaceae); Centaurium littorale (Gentianaceae); Sagina nodosa (Caryophyllaceae)(16% of pollen).

Jukes (2010) reported: Analysis of the pollen loads from ten bees from an English location shows that it appears to collect pollen regularly from an Oenanthe species which here obviously must be hemlock water dropwort, Oenanthe crocata (Apiaceae), Rubus fruticosus, Rosa (Rosaceae)(considering the time of year) and Asteraceae which could be Crepis capillaris. Occasionally it takes pollen of Jasione montana (Campanulaceae), another Apiaceae type, and some species of Brassicaceae.

Nesting biology

A typical mining bee, excavating its nesting burrows in expanses of bare or very sparsely vegetated, firm sand. The burrows often occur in aggregations and, on South Uist, were flush with the surrounding soil, there being no tumuli around the burrow entrances (pers. obs.). Irish habitat includes sandy clays along cliffs, marram dunes and, formerly, in the interstices of the masonry of a bridge (Stelfox, 1927, 1933). In Ireland, nest burrows have also been found on an exposure of flat loose sand within a pine plantation in Co. Wexford (pers. obs.).  

Flowers visited

Fiedler (unpublished) reported that on the Scottish island of Islay, males were found nectaring at Rosa pimpinellifolia (Rosaceae); Thymus sp. (Lamiaceae); Cirsium arvense, Cirsium vulgare (Asteraceae) and females were nectaring at Cirsium arvense, Cirsium vulgare (Asteraceae) and Galium verum (Rubiaceae). 

Other flower visitiation records are of visits to white clover (Trifolium repens), bird's-foot-trefoil (Lotus corniculatus), bramble (Rubus sp.), cinquefoil (Potentilla sp.), biting stonecrop (Sedum acre), sea-holly (Eryngium maritimum), water-dropwort (Oenanthe crocata), wild angelica (Angelica sylvestris), hogweed (Heracleum sphondylium), wild carrot (Daucus carota), heath (Ericaceae), thyme (Thymus sp.), sheep's-bit (Jasione montana) and cat's-ear (Hypochoeris radicata).

Author of profile

G R Else

Year profile last updated

Profile prepared: 1998

Updated January 2012