A new spot for me and IDed by helpful Twitter users, these are Ivy Bees (Colletes hederae), a type of mining bee that first appeared in Britain in 2001.
Here’s a helpful summary of the Ivy Bee from Naturespot.
They seem to be colonising a section of my Dad’s lawn and an adjacent border. They apparently like loose soil: Sandy and south-facing by preference. They fly for about 6 weeks in the autumn, feeding almost exclusively on ivy flowers. So I guess that means it is officially autumn then! 😦
I’ve yet to tell my Dad that they nest in dense clusters, with the possibility of a very large number of nests grouped together … and that they will re-appear next year.
Happily, those scrummaging bundles of bees are mostly made up of males (with no stings) in search of an emerging female. The bees are not in the slightest bit aggressive, but they are super cute.
They’re very pretty. The article (pdf) you linked to says they are harmless but another article I read said they sting! We’ve had a lot of bees this year but not seen any of these, probably because we don’t have any ivy. (And I gather they’re mostly in southern England, we’re in Wales.)
The RHS The Garden magazine came a couple of days ago and funnily enough had an article on ‘Britain’s newest bee’. Yes, it was the Ivy bee. They say that it has managed to spread north to Shropshire and west to Wales, so keep a look out. They also said they pose no threat to people and no pest control is needed. Sounds like stinging is not usual.
They really are pretty bees. Does your dad now? And will that negatively impact the bees?
Yes, I rang him that night. He does mow (well actually it is usually my brother or me), but not every week. It is only this frenzied fighting for position on the emergence by the female at the start of their ~6 week season that is likely to be a problem I think.
Thank you so much for this. I shall look out for them . Useful link too!
Coincidentally, the RHS magazine The Garden has an article about them this month too!