Image above: A Mining Bee

An exciting find has recently been reported from Newport, south Wales.

A bee species that is considered “nationally scarce” has been found in Newport for the first time, according to conservationists.

A rather strong population of Small Scabious Mining Bees (Andrena marginata) was discovered at St. Julian’s Park Local Nature Reserve last week, according to Buglife Cymru. This is the first time this species has been found in Newport or the surrounding area.

This sweet little bee got its name from the fact that it depends on pollen from scabious flowers. It has a special relationship with the flower known as Small scabious (Scabiosa columbaria). It is also known to forage on a wide range of other plants with nectar, such as brambles and thistles.

Conservation officer Liam Olds said this is a very exciting discovery, since the species experienced a severe decline in recent times, as an unfortunate result of habitat loss.

This 1:53-minute video by Xander Johnston - Ant Boy features Small Scabious Mining Bees in the Cairngorms in Scotland: 



These Small Scabious Mining Bees have a patchy but widespread distribution across Wales, in particular on the Castlemartin and Gower peninsulas on the south coast.

Buglife’s Searching for Scabious project is what brought about this successful discovery, which was set up to halt the decline.

Bees and other pollinators keep crops healthy and are important to our ecosystem. They help plants to reproduce. Two-thirds of all crops depend on insects to pollinate them, including many of our favorite fresh fruit and vegetable crops. Without them, food production would decrease.

Buglife is setting up chains, referred to as “b-lines,” of particularly appealing flowers across Britain to support healthy populations of small invertebrates like the Small Scabious Mining Bee so they can flourish throughout the entire UK.  This should help all pollinators to thrive.

Mr. Olds reminds us that we all have a duty to look after our wildlife. We shouldn’t stand by and watch anything go extinct on our watch, he says.

To see an image of the sweet little Small Scabious Mining Bee, and to find more information in general, click here.