Today, finally, after several years of hunting for them in Northamptonshire, I got to see some Ivy Bees (Colletes hederae) and managed to get a couple of decent photos. The Ivy Bee is a recent natural colonist to the British Isles, having arrived here in 2001. The Bees, Wasps and Ants Recording Society (BWARS) is running an Ivy Bee Mapping Project and you can find out more details by following that link.
The bees we saw today were a few minutes walk from the University and were (it’s galling to admit) discovered by Fergus Chadwick, a keen young ecologist who is working with me for a couple of months to gain some postgraduate research experience.
The main thing that Fergus is going to work on is a Pollinators of Ivy Monitoring Project. Follow that link and it will give you details of how you can provide us with data to better understand the pollination ecology of one of our most ecologically valuable and under-rated plants. Ivy (Hedera helix) is a hugely important nectar source to a wide range of over wintering bees, flies, beetles, hoverflies, wasps, and other insects. Not only that but its berries are a vital food source for many fruit eating birds. Any and all help in this project is very much appreciated!