ashy mining bee on yellow flower with a grey, blurred background

Ashy Mining Bee

The Ashy Mining Bee

The Spookiest-Looking Bee of Them All

We love all bees, but Ashy Mining bees have an air of mystery due to their lack of colour.

So, How Can You Recognise Them?

Ashy Mining Bees are the black cats of the bee world. They have shiny dark bodies and ash-grey hairs, unlike their brightly coloured bee friends. Their heads are surprisingly half grey and half black, and both genders have white/grey hairs on their faces.

Like many bee types, the female is larger than the male, and it is more curvaceous, with a hairless abdomen that gives her a glossier appearance.

Where Can You Find Ashy Mining Bees?

As well as the UK, these bees can be found throughout Europe, Scandinavia and Ireland. Ashy Mining Bees are visible between April and June.

Their hairy bodies are adapted to cold environments so you won't find our ashy-coloured friends in any tropical regions, the US or Canada.

Ashy Mining BeeAshy Mining Bee

Ashy Mining BeeAshy Mining Bee.

Are Ashy Mining Bees Solitary or Social?

Ashy mining bees are solitary bees, which means they have no honey to protect. This makes them safe for pets and children in your gardens as they haven't got any large honey stores like honey bees, and the male ones don't have any stingers.

What Do They Do for Us?

So much!

Our solitary bees are an essential part of our bee workforce. They are even known for being better pollinators than the more commonly recognisable honey bee!

1 in 3 mouthfuls of our food and drinks depend on solitary bee pollination.

Not only that, but their nesting behaviours also help our soil...

Ashy mining bees are mining bees, which means they dig small holes (about a pencil-size) in sand soil, woodlands, gardens and riverbanks.

Finding little holes in your soil might be strange, but they are essential for helping with drainage and aerating the soil. They tend to disappear with soil movement or when it rains as the bees cover their entrances themselves, so please don't cover them up!

Fun Facts

  • Mining bees have little grooves named facial fovea running down the inner workings of their eyes. No other UK bee has this characteristic!
  • Ashy mining bees aren't too bothered about specific plants and will eat many of them. Notable ones are brambles, buttercups, daisies, and mustard plants.
  • Unlike social honey bees, nectar and pollen balls are fed to ashy mining bee larvae instead of honey.
  • Ashy mining bee nests look like little 'volcanoes' of soil.
  • They are our blog writer, Jasmine's, favourite bee!
  • They live for 4-6 weeks in the Spring.
  • All females are fertile, unlike social bees, so they mate with the male ashy mining bees, and the female makes her own nest.
  • The female ashy mining bees look blue in the light!

Ashy Mining Bee In NestAshy Mining Bee In Nest

Ashy Mining Bee's 'Volcano' of soilAshy Mining Bee's 'Volcano' of soil

What Can We Do for Them?

To help our monochromatic friends, you should leave patches of soil untouched and dry so they can build their nests and look to plant more bee-friendly flowers instead of lots of grass.

Putting out piles of broken bricks or rocks are also great for bee burrows if your ground is too hard.

Thank you for being an active part of our bee-saving community.
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