Author Archives: Roger Ruston

About Roger Ruston

In one of my ealiest memories I am knee-high, collecting bees from lavender in a garden on the South Downs. When I grew up I got a master's in zoology at Bristol and studied insects under Prof. Howard Hinton FRS (for those who know, that gives away my age). After several retirements from several lives I have created a wildlife garden in Monmouth, Wales, giving a space to insects, especially bees. In four years I have found 49 species of bee there and nearly twice that number in the surrounding countryside. I am a member of BWARS (Bees, Wasps & Ants Recording Society). My ambition is to assist local conservation projects by identifying and mapping the local bees. I think it is best to know what species we share our spaces with before they are threatened by the many human activities that can destroy bees. Ignorance is the greatest enemy.

Small, red and black

Tuesday 15 May 2018 I visited a large, SW-facing organic pasture near Hendre, NW Monmouthshire, ungrazed since the previous year. The recent sunny weather on this day produced a really interesting list of bees. This includes six different nomad bees, … Continue reading

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Red Dead-nettle & early bees

Saturday 14 April. The first warm(ish) spring day of a slow, dull year. An old pasture on the margins of Monmouth is carpeted with Red Dead-nettles beneath its ancient oaks.   RDN is a fragile annual usually seen on roadside … Continue reading

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The Bilberry Mining Bee

Bilberry Mining Bee, Andrena lapponica Another Bilberry specialist, this time nearer to home. Walking in Trellech Common woods, above the Lower Wye Valley,  in the first week of May, I noticed some large Bilberry patches under the trees. Foraging on … Continue reading

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The mountain bumblebee

Bilberry Bumblebee, Bombus monticola I have found this scarce upland bumblebee at three locations in Monmouthshire: the high moorland between Blaenavon and Blorenge; Coity Tip reserve on the other side of Blaenavon; and the extensive heather-covered hillside a few miles … Continue reading

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A rare cuckoo-bee and its host

Stelis phaeoptera and Osmia leaiana In July 2014 I found two small black bees on Yarrow in my garden that I did not recognize. Searching my keys I identified them as Stelis phaeoptera, a cuckoo-bee species. It does the kind … Continue reading

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Smallest bee?

Lasioglossum minutissimum I have now found two other insects sharing the big nest aggregation I wrote about in my earlier post. One is a very small, mostly black, hunting wasp, Lindenius albilabris, which stocks its nest with even smaller flies … Continue reading

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Gregarious and social

Lasioglossum malachurum On the West side of Monmouth, along the edge of Sergeant’s Wood and Sergeant’s Grove there are some large nesting aggregations of a small mining bee Lasioglossum malachurum, sometimes called the Sharp-collared Furrow Bee on account of its … Continue reading

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Making homes for leafcutter bees

A simple construction built with metal cans and bamboo tubes has attracted several species of tube-nesting bees to my garden since I first tried it in 2011. They include leafcutter species which line their nest-cells and seal the ends with … Continue reading

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Longhorn Bee

The Longhorn Bee, Eucera longicornis My bee of the year 2016! This large solitary bee has disappeared from many British counties in recent years. This may be due to the loss of its main foraging plants – especially Bird’s-foot Trefoil … Continue reading

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