Melecta albifrons - Melecta albifrons

Description

Length about 13mm. This is a distinctive spring bee, with the head and body entirely black in the female except for a pair of lateral patches of white appressed hairs on most of the gastral tergites (top surface of the abdomen) and on the legs. However, in some individuals, these patches are darker, so that these are not so obvious. The male has more white or yellowish white hairs, on the head and thorax.

Habitat

Wherever there are nesting aggregations of Hairy-footed Flower Bee (Anthophora plumipes.)

When to see it

March to June

Life History

A cuckoo bee of the Hairy-footed Flower Bee, Anthophora plumipes. The female M. albifrons goes into an Anthophora burrow and lays its egg with the pollen food supply gathered by Anthophora. When the Melecta albifrons egg hatches the larva feeds up on the food supply intended for the Anthophora larva, pupates and emerges next year instead of the host.

UK Status

Mainly a southern species fairly frequent from the English Midlands southwards.

VC55 Status

Occasional in Leicestershire and Rutland.

Leicestershire & Rutland Map

UK Map