The common mourning bee is a solitary bee with some interesting habits. Their Latin name is Melecta albifrons and can be found in southern parts of the British Isles. Males and females measure roughly 13mm long and are mostly black, except for the females that have white hairs on their legs and abdomen.
This is a spring bee & tends to nest from March to June in areas where its host is also nesting. This will be in areas like greenspaces in built up areas, outside spaces and soft cliff faces. You will find the common mourning bee where ever you find the Hariy Footed Flower bee who host their young.
Nesting Habits of the Common Mourning Bee
Unlike most bees, the Common Mourning Bee is a nest parasite known as a cleptoparasite. They will lay their eggs in the nest of a hairy-footed flower bee. They will hatch before the host’s young and consume them along with the pollen stores. Then, in the following spring, they will emerge as adults. Just because solitary bees like this one do not make honey does not mean they are not good pollinators. On the contrary, these bees also carry out a tremendous amount of cross-pollination in their daily lives, actual busy bees!
How To Identify A Common Mourning Bee
This species of bee are easily identifiable as they have furry white collar and an all-black body. The females have white spots along the abdomen. However, these can be grey, making it harder to identify them. Males will have a yellow hue to the white hairs on the legs and abdomen of the bee.