Extinct in Ireland: September 6th, Perkin’s Mining Bee (Andrena rosae)


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In recent years declines in bee populations have set alarm bells ringing, and this seems to have penetrated quite widely. I would urge all readers in Ireland to familiarise themselves with All-Ireland Pollinator Plan and to think what influence they can bring to bear on its realisation.

In Ireland two species have become extinct, one being Andrena rosae with the evocative common name of “Perkin’s Mining Bee”:

A medium-large species (averaging a little smaller than A. trimmerana and scotica) with two generations that are regarded as separate species by some workers. The spring form (called A. stragulata by some workers) usually has an extensively red abdomen in both sexes and the male has a spine on the cheeks at the base of mandibles (like A. trimmerana and some A. ferox). However some males can be very dark and the amount of red on the female abdomen varies considerably (see images).

The summer generation is usually much darker (often looking much like a short-haired trimmerana or scotica) and the males lack a cheek spine. Males have an entirely dark hind tibia (tip pale in trimmerana). However, it is still possible to find males and females with substantially red abdomens in this generation.

This brood dimorphism of the male spine character is also shown by A. trimmerana, and no genetic differences have yet been found between stragulata and rosae, which strongly suggests they are conspecific.

This is an exceptionally rare and declined bee with few modern records. It has mostly been recorded from southern Britain, especially the SW. The habits are strikingly similar to trimmerana, with the spring generation foraging heavily on Blackthorn and willows and the summer one on brambles and umbellifers. It may well replace trimmerana in more exposed and oceanic climates. Habitats used include soft-rock cliffs, exposed coastal grasslands and scrub, quarries and moorland edge.

 

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