Temperatures a bit above 10C in the past couple of days and some warm sunshine produced the emergence of a number of tiny bees busily investigating leaf litter and Sanguinaria and crocus flowers near the garden waterfall this afternoon … the camera and I went outside to meet them.

These bees are a species of the genus Andrena and possibly A. dunningi or Dunning’s Miner Bee. At least, they are a species close to this. It is a small, solitary bee – that is to say that they don’t form colonies – and in this case around 8mm in length. They do not sting.

Bees in this genus are commonly known as mining bees due to their ground-nesting lifestyle. They can be distinguished from other bees by the broad velvety areas in between the compound eyes which is easily seen in these photographs. They mostly have just one generation per year and adults are only active for a few weeks around this time of year. They over-winter as adults in the holes in the ground from which they emerged from eggs – the larvae feeding on pollen placed there by the parent.

Small but rather attractive in the sunshine which accentuates the warm tones of the fuzzy hairs that these bees use to collect pollen from the flowers they visit. They don’t have pollen baskets like honey bees do.