THE TORMENTIL MINING BEE
A small, elusive, black solitary bee - known as the Tormentil mining bee Andrena tarsata.
Rarity: It has been lost from over half of its habitat since the 1970s
Causes of decline: Loss of specific microhabitats, through loss of sandy nesting areas and changes in grazing management
It has an associated Nomad bee Nomada roberjeotiana, a kleptoparasite that takes over its host nest killing its eggs; this is even rare than its host
Andrena tarsata is a northern European bee, that becomes scarcer further south. Stöckhert (1933) describes it as being a boreal-alpine species. Its range extends from central Fennoscandia south to Spain, and eastwards to the former Czechoslovakia and USSR (GR Else, BWARS website).
It is found across the UK in England, Wales and Scotland, with strongholds in Yorkshire and the South West (Cornwall, Devon and Dorset).
The Tormentil mining bee is widespread, however the species has been lost from 50% of its former sites since 1970 so its distribution is fragmented and localised (BWARS data).
The South West and Yorkshire have been identified as strongholds for the species (Buglife 2014). It is nearly always scarce, but it is possibly under-recorded because of its small size.
Tormentil Mining bee surveys and report 2021
A resurvey of the Tormentil mining bee Andrena tarsata sites in Yorkshire re-found the species at three key sites, there were no records of Nomada roberjeotiana although some sites had historic records. The surveys also recorded habitat type and key features of each site and makes recommendations for management at the site to benefit these species.
The recommendation will also benefit a number of other heath/moorland mining bee species, as well as other invertebrates; as bare ground is a key nesting/foraging habitat and Tormentil an important pollen and nectar source. This report is the start of ongoing surveys and studies of these two species in Yorkshire.