Rare species of bee spotted in Warwickshire for the first time - The Leamington Observer

Rare species of bee spotted in Warwickshire for the first time

A RARE species of bee is creating a real buzz in Warwickshire.

​Colletes cunincularius – also known as the Spring Plasterer bee – has been discovered for the first time in the county at Ryton Pools Country Park.

It is a solitary, early-spring bee species that typically nests in very sandy soil, feeding predominantly on sallow blossoms. It has a distinctive fluffy face, and its nesting behaviour involves digging tunnels in the ground, which they line with a cellophane-like material.

Like many bee species, the Spring Plasterer Bee is known to be an important pollinator of a range of plants, including fruit trees and wildflowers.

The already relatively small population of this species declined heavily during the 20th century, to the point that it was known to exist at just a few sites on the northwest coasts of England and Wales. Since 2010, populations have steadily recovered and begun expanding southwards and inland to new areas.

The list of bee species at Ryton Pools now stands at an impressive 82, thought to be one of the best single site lists in Warwickshire. The diverse range of bee species indicate that the park’s ecosystem is healthy and able to support a rich tapestry of wildlife.

The discovery of Colletes cunicularius was made during a survey conducted by Warwickshire Country Parks Ranger George Humphrey, who carries out regular monitoring of insect populations in the area. He identified a single male in early March, and the ranger team has since confirmed a healthy population of the bees in the same area.

The ranger team continually work hard to develop a welcoming environment for bees at Ryton Pools. Building bee hotels. planting wildflower-rich pond edges, and seeding new wildflower meadows, are just some of the projects that have helped promote a bee-friendly ecosystem at the park.

Bees and other pollinators pollinate nearly three quarters of the plants that produce 90 per cent of the world’s food. Over the past 50 years, the number of crops dependent on pollinators, such as fruit, vegetables and seeds, has tripled.

Bees also play a key role in preserving the balance of biodiversity in nature. By pollinating, bees protect and maintain ecosystems as well as animal and plant species.

George Humphrey, who made the discovery, said: “The discovery of Colletes cunicularius at Ryton Pools was a wonderful and unexpected start to the 2023 bee recording season. The park is one of the few places in Warwickshire with suitable conditions for this bee, which highlights the importance of preserving the unique habitats in all of Warwickshire’s country parks and green spaces. I am proud to be part of a team working to ensure our park’s ecosystems continue to support a range of species, including the Spring Plasterer Bee.”

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