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Chocolate Mining Bee - Andrena scotica
Family - Andrenidae
Syn. A. carantonica
Also known as - Hawthorn Bee

The Chocolate Mining Bee is a common communual mining bee occuring in many habitats found in the U.K, western to central Europe.  It is also commonly known as A. carantonica.  Sexually dimorphic, the females ♀ are around 11-14mm (0.4-0.55in) long similar in size to a Honey bee, the slightly smaller and slimmer males ♂ are 10-13mm (0.39-0.5in) long and die out somewhat earlier than the females.  They are an overall black with a covering of fine brown to orange hairs, which is denser on the thorax.  On the wing from about March to June and polyectic, they build their nest underground in firm sandy soils and also occasionally under structures.  Multiple females will share a nest site but have differing brood chambers within the nest.

Chocolate Mining Bees are often parasitised by larvae, which in over 70% of cases are females of the parasitic fly Stylops melittae which specialise in mining bees.  Stylops produce large numbers of larvae on flowers so when the Chocolate Mining Bee visits for pollen it picks up a parasitic load.  These larvae then enter the host to feed and establish themselves in the abdomen.  Some time later their anterior portion breaks through between two abdominal segments of the bees skin, where they then pupate into flies, re-infecting more bees.  See the left photo below where a small yellow protusion will be seen on the bee's abdomen, this is a Stylops anterior portion.

Chocolate Mining Bee - Andrena scotica, click for a larger imageDusted in pollen and
parasitized by Stylops
Photo ©2006
J. Lance, FBCP
Chocolate Mining Bee - Andrena scotica, click for a larger image, photo licensed for reuse
Photo ©2015 Aiwok
Chocolate Mining Bee - Andrena scotica, click for a larger image, licensed for reuse NCSA3.0
Photo ©2012 Henk Wallays
Click any photo for a larger image

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