Yesterday I noticed a little more activity at the bee box, after noticing a tiny visitor last week. I managed a photo but it was ….well frankly, tiny. It is very hard to identify many of the solitary bees from photos, even if you really know your stuff. And I don’t, but it seems likely that the first bees using the bee box are Blue Mason bees, Osmia caerulescens, also know as Blue orchard bees.
This afternoon, as this corner of the UK hung onto the last throws of the glorious weather we have been enjoying, I tried to get some more pictures. And whilst I was staring at a 4mm hole in a bamboo cane where I knew there was a bee, my eye was caught by something sparkly and bright.
This is a Jewel or Ruby tailed Wasp, Chrysis species, another described as common and widespread but I have never noticed before. I was so thrilled to both see and photograph it, had my joy briefly dented when I learned it is a parasite of solitary bees, and then regained a sense of perspective. If the bee box is going to be colonised by bees there is bound to be another species balancing their numbers. I am taking it as a positive that the area sustains a healthy enough population of bees for their parasites also to be present. And what a beauty.
I took more photos of the bees too. Still nothing very good. I shall keep trying.