Buzz for new bee found in Greenwich

14 October 2016

Viper’s Bugloss Mason Bee

A bee species has been spotted for the first time breeding in Britain. The bee was found during a survey of Greenwich Peninsula Ecology Park, London.

A bee species has been spotted for the first time breeding in Britain. The bee was found during a survey of Greenwich Peninsula Ecology Park London.

First found in Britain by Natural History Museum scientist David Notton, the bee is using bee nest boxes provided at the Land Trust site, which is managed on a day-to-day basis by The Conservation Volunteers. The species, Hoplitis adunca, is more commonly found in continental Europe and does not pose a threat to other British pollinators.

Notton thinks it is unlikely to become widespread in Britain: “It’s at the limit of its temperature range here, and is restricted by its reliance on pollen from a specific plant called Viper’s Bugloss. But it’s a great example of how important urban green spaces are for giving pollinators a home and that putting bee nesting boxes in gardens and parks can help support pollinators too.”

The Ecology Park is a good habitat for the bee, with a warm micro-climate, a large quantity of its preferred flower, Viper's Bugloss, and mud and dead wood to make nests from.

There are over 270 species of bee in Britain. Around 80 species can be found in Greenwich Peninsula Ecology Park in the former gasworks site on Greenwich Peninsula, with about 10% of these being at some degree of risk. Bee habitats on the site are managed by project officer Tony Day, with The Conservation Volunteers and the Land Trust working together to provide an ideal environment and help monitor populations.

The bee lives on its own rather than in a colony and makes its nest in hollow stems or holes in wood, capped with mud. Hole-nesting bees such as these sometimes get moved around when they nest in cavities in freight or vehicles. Given its living habits the discoverers have proposed a common name: Viper’s Bugloss Mason Bee.

Simon Pile, Estates Manager South at the Land Trust, said: “It’s fantastic that everyone’s hard work and our long-term investment in Greenwich Peninsula Ecology Park are having such a wonderful impact on the environment and this bee in particular. We’re delighted that it now calls Greenwich home and are looking forward to future research and discoveries at this little green oasis in London.”

According to Notton, the picture is mixed for bees in Britain: “Some bee species are doing ok, while others are struggling, with habitat change, climate change and pesticides all impacting the environment.”

Ends

 

Notes to editors

Original Publication
Notton, D.G., Tang, C.Q., Day, A.R. 2016 “Viper’s Bugloss Mason Bee, Hoplitis (Hoplitis) adunca, New To Britain (Hymenoptera, Megachilidae, Megachilinae, Osmiini)” Br. J. Ent. Nat. Hist Vol 29 pp 134-143, plates 10-11. Link to paper

Images: Please download from https://nhm.box.com/s/8blscwzdynhkk6w2nhjdx2jqd1va8cin and credit: © The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London

Scientific names such as Hoplitis adunca are conventionally written in italics, with the genus (first name) capitalized and the species (second name) not capitalised.

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Greenwich Peninsula Ecology Park is made up of four acres of freshwater habitat and is home to a fascinating array of wildlife. Since 2002 the Ecology Park has been open to the public and has rapidly become an established and bio-diverse urban wetland. The park is carefully managed by the park wardens and our team of dedicated volunteers to maintain a delicate balance of habitats, which play host to our many different wildlife species. http://www.tcv.org.uk/greenwichpeninsula

The Land Trust is a national land management charity that provides a cost effective management solution for open space and green infrastructure, including Greenwich Peninsula Ecology Park. We use our spaces to deliver positive interventions that provide significant community benefits, including improving health, social cohesion, providing an educational resource and uplifting the local economy.  Further information at www.thelandtrust.org.uk

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