One of the few species that looks like it's having a good year is one of my favourite bees, Dasypoda hirtipes. For a few weeks now, the patches of ragwort by the path to the heath have been playing host to the delightfully fluffy males of this species. They lack the outlandish pantaloons of the female, and resemble instead a larger, hairier version of the Colletes bees that also love the ragwort at this time of year.
|A male Dasypoda hirtipes|
The paths through the heath are riddled with holes made by nesting bees and wasps, especially the extravagantly name Ornate-tailed Digger Wasp Cerceris rybyensis which stocks its burrows with bees. The wasp doesn't have it all its own way though, as its burrows in turn often fall prey to the dazzlingly marked Ruby-tailed wasps which are easy to see at present as they search for nests to lay their own eggs in. Cerceris burrows play host to two of most striking Ruby-tails to be found in the UK, Hedychrum niemelai and H.nobile, two closely related and hard to distinguish species, sharing a pattern of metallic green and red across their bodies. In an entirely gratuitous shoehorning in of another ruby-tail picture I'll also mention the Chrysis ignita aggregate of species, a collection of near identical green wasps with ruby tails, one of which I found wandering along a rail one day.
|A gratuitous Chrysis ignita agg.|
|A lovely fluffy female Marpissa muscosa|