25 bee species identified on Allt Rhongyr!

Allt Rhongyr has a variety of rich ground flora providing plenty of pollen and nectar

Allt Rhongyr has a variety of rich ground flora providing plenty of pollen and nectar

Bilberry Bumblebee. Photo: Pauline Hill

Bilberry Bumblebee. Photo: Pauline Hill

During this summer, bee expert Janice Vincett, carried out a survey of aculeate (stinging insect) species of Allt Rhongyr.

The aim of the survey was to identify the diversity of aculeate and other pollinator species presentAllt Rhongyr has rich ground flora and consists of lowland acid grass lands, upland calcareous grasslands and upland ash woodland. Patches of bare earth and short grass provide suitable habitat for ground nesting species and the variety of flora provide plenty of pollen and nectar.

After a reconnaissance visit in April, Janice visited the reserve, situated high in the Brecon Beacons above Craig Y Nos Country Park, four times between May and September.  Samples were collected at identified sites by sweep nets and five sets of three coloured pan traps containing water with small amounts of detergent.  The latter samples were collected after four hours for identification.  A variety of sites were chosen including warm sunny spots, some with bare soil for the burrowing species as well as those with wild flowers or dead wood.

In all 25 bee species were identified. These included five social species and 20 solitary nesting species.

Eight of these were cleptoparasitic species indicating that their host species was present even if it was not recorded in this survey.  In addition one social, one solitary and one spider eating species of wasps were recorded.  All were fairly common in the UK apart from Andrena falsifica and Andrena chrysosceles.

It was interesting that the greatest diversity of species occurred in the May sample with six Andrena species, five Nomada species, three species each of Bombus and Lasioglossum. 

The highlight was Andrena falsifica (thick margined mini-mining bee) which is listed as Nationally Scarce.

There are only two confirmed records on NBN Atlas in Wales; one near Bangor, north Wales and one near Cowbridge, south Wales. However there were several unconfirmed finds in south Wales, mostly near the coastline.

Another species recorded was Sphecodes molinicornis (box-headed blood bee).  This species which has a blood-red abdomen is a cleptoparasite of several furrow bee species (Lasioglossum sp).  The female forcibly invades the pre-stocked cells and destroys the eggs or grubs within.  She then lays her own eggs in the cell before resealing the cell.

Other insects noted included seven diptera, seven butterfly, two moths and a dragonfly species.

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