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Biffo at the Blue-banded B&B

March 2, 2022

Many blogs have been devoted to observations of the life and death struggles occurring at the Blue-banded B&B, an eight metre high wall of a local historic building where Blue-banded Bees (BBB’s) build nests in summer.

BBB’s are solitary bees in that they do not form a collective hive. Instead they tunnel individually into friable materials such as the lime mortar of old buildings and create a cell in which they lay an egg and then stock it with food for when the larva hatches. Whilst the bee is out foraging for this food parasitoid insects such as Cuckoo Bees and Gasteruptiid Wasps enter the cell and lay their own eggs. The BBB’s appeared to be oblivious to these goings-on. This year however I have noticed the BBB’s fighting back.

Cuckoo bees are very obvious about their intent. They will sit on the wall outside a BBB tunnel and wait. When the BBB leaves it enters the tunnel to lay its egg. Sometimes the BBB returns earlier than expected. Pictured above is a BBB (Amegilla sp.) hovering outside its tunnel after having found a Neon Cuckoo Bee (Thyreus nitidulus) about to leave. After about twenty seconds of stand-off the BBB appeared to attack the cuckoo bee (pictured right). All that can really be seen is a melee of antennae and legs but the two fell to the ground and continued the biffo there. They soon separated and flew their different ways.

Blue-banded Bee 1, Invaders 0 – although I think the damage had already been done.

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