Bees that parasitise each other

We found this unusual bee, with it’s distinctive black and white markings, near Otter Cottage. It’s called a common mourning bee, though it’s not all that common. It is on the wing anytime between March and June.

This one is the first we’ve noticed here (well, Maggie has been paying attention to bees this year). It’s actually a parasite of the hairy footed flower bees that live in the old cob wall near Ian’s workshop.

The mourning bee will invade a nest, lay it’s own eggs, which hatch out a grub that eats the hairy footed flower bee’s offspring and any pollen store. Macabre!

These are its prey bees – the female hairy footed flower bee is almost all black, and the male has an oddly pale face, with white hairs.