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 – from farmland. Luckily we still have enough left in the Monnow Valley to sustain the bee at several sites. These include the banks of the Monnow at two locations, an organically managed farm near Hendre and the flower meadows at Kingcoed, owned and managed by Monmouthshire Meadows Group. I think the Monmouth area could be one of its last strongholds in Britain.
The male is umistakable, though it dashes about in the grass at speed in May and early June and its amazing antennae are not obvious until it’s in your net.
The female, as it forages on legumes in July, can be mistaken for one of the faded Common Carder Bees doing the same thing, until you get a close look at its hairy buff hind legs and black abdomen with white bands at the rear.
Here is a female on a large patch of Bird’s-Foot Trefoil that has escaped the mower near the river bank at Perthir