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Ivy Bee Snapshot

Project Lead: Issy Sexton


Running: September-End of October 2023

What is the Ivy Bee Snapshot? 

Ivy bees are the last UK bee species to emerge each year, with their flight period lasting just a few weeks between late August to early November. They are similar in size to a honey bee, but have a buff-coloured hairy thorax with a black and yellow striped abdomen. They are not aggressive and are very unlikely to sting.


The ivy bee was first discovered in the south of the UK in 2001, after colonising here from mainland Europe. Since then, they have been seen to spread to Wales and no are being seen in the North of England. They are considered an introduced species but not an invasive species. As far as we know, they have no negative effects on our other bees species as they occupy a different ecological niche - they have no need to compete for foraging or nesting materials

The easiest place to spot an ivy bee is on ivy flowers as this is what they predominately feed on. They also gather in large aggregations to mate. The males emerge in late August, females slightly later. The males will aggregate around nests in their hundred and compete to mate with the emerging females, bundling together in chaotic 'mating balls'!

How can you help?

As they are newcomers to the UK, we have a lot to learn about ivy bees. In this snapshot we want to look for two things: 

a) Ivy bees on ivy flowers

b)Ivy bee nesting aggregations 

We are asking volunteers to observe ivy bees on ivy flowers for 10 minutes and record their behaviour. If you are lucky enough to find a nesting aggregation, then we would like you to fill out a survey based on what you see - this is also a quick survey to fill out. We also ask that you submit your findings to BWARS (see protocol for details). 

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What do you get out of it?

By taking part in this project, you will be helping us to learn more about ivy bee nesting and foraging behaviours. You will also have a chance to get acquainted with a striking, and very ecologically interesting, species. 

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