Yellow Loosestrife Bees

Field Paintings

During August I made two trips to track down Macropis europaea The Yellow Loosestrife Bee. As its name suggests this bee is associated with Yellow Loosestrife Lysimachia vulgaris. The nearest known sites to me are around Wool, Dorset so I checked out an area by the River Stour without success. Moving on to Bournemouth I got caught in holiday traffic jams and eventually decided to head for a quieter area. I finally caught up with the bees at the Dorset Wildlife Trusts’ Troublefield Nature Reserve near Hurn. A series of flower rich meadows and riverside vegetation grazed by some docile Shetland cattle. The bees were easily found once I had located a good stand of loosestrife amongst riverside vegetation.

These bees collect pollen and floral oils from the loosestrife and use the oils to waterproof their nests. This enables them to construct nest burrows in damp ground which is occasionally flooded. I visited again a few days later, remembering to wear longer trousers after being badly stung by nettles on my first visit! The bees were active in warm sunshine and were easy to watch at close range as they moved between the flowers. They are able to collect large pollen loads on their enlarged hind legs and look quite comical as they sit in the flowers with their legs splayed out behind them. Watch video here.

John Walters

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