Tawny Mining Bee

Andrena fulva

Last updated: May 27, 2024
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
A.S.Floro/Shutterstock.com

Tawny mining bees often nest in large aggregates of up to 100 females.


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Tawny Mining Bee Scientific Classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Arthropoda
Class
Insecta
Order
Hymenoptera
Family
Andrenidae
Genus
Andrena
Scientific Name
Andrena fulva

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Tawny Mining Bee Conservation Status

Tawny Mining Bee Locations

Tawny Mining Bee Locations

Tawny Mining Bee Facts

Prey
N/A
Main Prey
N/A
Name Of Young
larvae
Group Behavior
  • Solitary
  • Colonial Nesting
Fun Fact
Tawny mining bees often nest in large aggregates of up to 100 females.
Estimated Population Size
Undetermined
Biggest Threat
habitat loss, pesticide
Most Distinctive Feature
female furry body
Distinctive Feature
lack of setae (hair) on males
Other Name(s)
N/A
Gestation Period
N/A
Temperament
mild
Wingspan
0.40 - 0.55 inches (10-14 mm)
Training
N/A
Optimum pH Level
N/A
Incubation Period
3-5 days
Age Of Independence
emergence
Age Of Fledgling
emergence
Average Spawn Size
1-30 eggs
Litter Size
N/A
Habitat
woodlands, meadows, hedgerows, gardens
Predators
Birds, spiders, rodents, other insects
Diet
Herbivore
Average Litter Size
N/A
Lifestyle
  • Diurnal
Favorite Food
Fruit tree blossom nectar
Type
Andrena fulva
Common Name
tawny mining bee
Special Features
efficient pollinators
Origin
Eurasia
Location
Europe, Asia
Slogan
N/A
Group
N/A
Nesting Location
ground nester
Age of Molting
various times throughout larval stage

Tawny Mining Bee Physical Characteristics

Color
  • Brown
  • Yellow
  • Red
  • Black
  • Gold
  • Dark Brown
  • Orange
Skin Type
Exoskeleton
Lifespan
3 weeks - 9 months
Weight
less than 1 ounce
Height
0.1-0.2 inches
Length
0.25 - 0.50 inches (7-12 mm)
Age of Sexual Maturity
emergence
Age of Weaning
N/A
Venomous
No
Aggression
Low

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As the warming rays of the sun climb higher in the morning sky a tiny but mighty creature emerges from its underground lair. Meet Andrena fulva, the tawny mining bee. Tawny mining bees are formidable pollinators and expert diggers that play a crucial role in maintaining the balance of nature. With its sensational furry coat and impressive flying skills, this solitary bee is a true wonder, deserving of our admiration and protection.

There are over 1,500 species in the genus Andrena, which is one of the largest genera of bees in the world. These bees are found throughout the temperate and subtropical regions of the world and are important pollinators. There are approximately 500 species of Andrena found in North America, from Canada to Mexico. Andrena in North America are pollinators for crops such as blueberries (Vaccinium) cherries (Prunus), and almonds (Prunus dulcis). However, tawny mining bees are native to Europe and Asia, where they are widely distributed. Tawny mining bees are found from Portugal to Russia, and from Scandinavia to the Mediterranean. The tawny mining bee is also found in parts of Western and Central Asia. Keep reading to discover more fascinating tidbits about these alluring insects.

Scientific Name

The scientific binomial name Andrena fulva is Latin. The genus name Andrena is Latin derived from the Greek anthrēnē which means buzzing insect. The species name fulva is Latin for tawny, which describes the reddish-brown color of this species setae (hair). Therefore, the scientific name Andrena fulva means rusty-orange buzzing insect.

macro of male tawny mining bee. The bee is facing left. It is mostly black with scraggly yellow har on its thorax.

Males in the genus are often mistakenly identified as wasps due to their smooth abdomens.

Tawny Mining Bee: Appearance

The tawny mining bee is a medium-sized bee with an unmistakable appearance that varies slightly between males and females. Females have specialized setae (bristly hairs) on their hind legs called scopae (singularly scopa) that they use to carry pollen. Females have a dense covering of tawny or rusty orange setae (bristly hair) on the top of their thorax and abdomen, with black setae on their heads, legs, antennae, and undercarriage. Males of the species are much less hirsute. Their thorax has rusty-orange setae (hair) but it is less densely covered, and their abdomens are practically smooth. Males are often mistakenly identified as wasps due to their smooth abdomens. Both females and males have transparent black or dark brown wings, with wingspans of 0.40 – 0.55 inches (10-14 mm). They measure between 0.25 – 0.50 inches (7-12 mm) in length. Females of this species are larger than males.



macro if a tawny mining bee. The bee is facing left on a green leaf. The bee is covered in setae (hairs). Th hairs are black on the bottom of the bee and rusty orange on the top. Its face is totally black.

Females have a dense covering of tawny or rusty orange setae (bristly hair) on the top of their thorax and abdomen, with black setae on their heads, legs, antennae, and undercarriage.

Behavior

Tawny mining bees are solitary bees, meaning that they do not live in colonies with social structures. Instead, they create individual nests in soil or sand, often in sunny and open areas. Tawny mining bees often nest in large aggregates of up to 100 females. However, they are not social and do not form colonies. These bees are active from early spring to early summer and are important pollinators for many wildflowers and crops. They are impressive flyers and can be seen darting quickly from flower to flower. Tawny mining bees are generally not aggressive and do not sting unless provoked or threatened. They are a univoltine species which means that they produce one generation per season.

Tawny Mining Bee: Diet

Andrena fulva is considered to be a generalist feeder, meaning that it is not reliant on a specific type of plant or flower for its survival. Instead, tawny mining bees are known to visit a wide variety of wildflowers and crops in their native range. While they are not specialist feeders, they are known to be important pollinators for agricultural crops including canola (Brassica), apple (Malus domestica), pear (Pyrus), plum (Prunus), and cherry (Prunus).

Habitat

Tawny mining bees are native to Europe and Asia, where they are found in a wide range of habitats. Andrena fulva forages in gardens, meadows, woodlands, hedgerows, and other open, sunny areas with loose, sandy soil. These bees prefer to nest in dry, well-drained soil that is not too compacted or heavy, as they require loose soil to dig their underground nests. They are particularly fond of sandy or loamy soils, with abundant vegetation or wildflowers nearby.
In suburban areas, tawny mining bees nest in lawns or other grassy areas, particularly if these areas have been left undisturbed for a period of time. Tawny mining bees are adaptable and can be found in a variety of habitats, as long as the soil conditions are suitable for their underground nesting behavior and there are flowering plants in the vicinity.

Tawny Mining Bee: Predators

Andrena fulva faces a variety of predators including birds, spiders, and rodents. However, chief among its adversaries are other insects: Panzer’s nomad bee (Nomada panzeri), Neocollyris signata, a species of ground beetle in the family Carabidae, and the large bee-fly (Bombylius major).

Nomada panzeri

Panzer’s nomad bee is a species of cuckoo bee that is known to target the nests of the tawny mining bee. Like other kleptoparasitic bees, Nomada panzeri does not build its own nests but instead deposits its eggs in the nests of other bee species.
Nomada panzeri is a kleptoparasite that usurps the nests of tawny mining bees depositing its eggs in the brood cells intended for the tawny’s offspring. When the eggs of the Nomada panzeri hatch, their larvae consume the food stores (and eggs when present) of the tawny mining bee.

Neocollyris signata

Neocollyris signata is a species of ground beetle in the family Carabidae. It is known to prey on the tawny mining bee. Neocollyris signata are found in many parts of Europe, including France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Neocollyris signata preys on Andrena fulva by waiting near the entrances to their underground nests and ambushing them as they emerge. The beetle then kills the bee and feeds on its body. The interactions between Neocollyris signata and Andrena fulva have been studied as an example of predator-prey co-evolution, where the adaptations of each species influence the evolution of the other. Andrena fulva have evolved thicker cuticles and more powerful mandibles to protect against predation by Neocollyris signata, while the beetle has evolutionary adaptations that allow it to ensnare its prey more effectively.

Bombylius major

The large bee-fly (Bombylius major) is a parasitoid fly that has been observed preying on the tawny mining bee as well as other bee species. The female fly lays her eggs near the entrance of the bee’s burrow, and when the larvae hatch, they burrow into the bee’s nest, where they feed on the bee’s eggs/larvae/pupae and food stores. The effects of Bombylius major on bee populations are not well understood. However, in areas where bee populations are already stressed by habitat loss and a reduction of foraging sites, monitoring may be necessary to ensure the survival of Andrena fulva. In other news, Bombylius major are considered efficient pollinators. However, lacking the ability to provide for its own offspring, the large bee-fly is at the mercy of other bee species for its survival.

Tawny Mining Bee: Threats

Tawny mining bees face a range of threats to their survival, including habitat loss, pesticide exposure, and climate change. Habitat loss is a major threat to tawny mining bees, as they require loose, sandy soil in sunny areas to build their underground nests. The conversion of natural habitats to urban and agricultural landscapes, as well as the removal of natural vegetation, has resulted in a reduction of suitable nesting sites for these bees.

Pesticide exposure is another major threat, as tawny mining bees come into contact with toxic agricultural chemicals while foraging on commercial crops. Exposure to pesticides affects their reproductive success, and overall health, and even causes mortality in some cases. Climate change is also a significant threat to tawny mining bees, as it alters the timing of plant flowering and the availability of resources for these bees. Changes in temperature and precipitation patterns also affect the timing of bee emergence and nesting, which may affect their ability to successfully reproduce and maintain healthy populations.

Conservation Status and Population

Andrena fulva is not currently listed as a threatened or endangered species by any major conservation organizations. However, like many other bee species, they face a range of threats to their survival, including habitat loss, pesticide exposure, and climate change. Population statistics for tawny mining bees are not widely available, as these bees are not regularly monitored or surveyed in most areas. However, like many other bee species, tawny mining bees have experienced declines in their numbers in some regions. However, in a pleasant reversal of this trend, the tawny mining bee, thought to have been extinct in Ireland for 87 years, was re-discovered in 2012 and has been gaining ground ever since!

Tawny Mining Bee: Lifecycle

The lifecycle of tawny mining bees begins when adult bees emerge from their underground nests in the spring. Males emerge before females. When the female bees emerge, they mate with the males, who die shortly thereafter. The female then begins her search for a suitable nesting site in loose, sandy soil. She will excavate a tunnel and create several brood cells, each of which she fills with pollen and nectar before depositing an individual egg in each cell. When the larvae hatch, they feed on the provisioned pollen and nectar. The larvae molt several times before pupating within the cell. The pupae overwinter in their brood cells, emerging as adults the following spring to continue the cycle. Tawny mining bees typically have one generation per year.

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About the Author

Kathryn Koehler is a writer at A-Z-Animals where her focus is on unusual animals, places, and events. Kat has over 20 years of experience as a professional writer and educator. She holds a master's degree from Vanderbilt University. When she is not writing for A-Z-Animals, Kat enjoys puttering in her garden, baking deliciously healthful treats for her family, and playing with her two rescue mutts, Popcorn and Scooter. She resides in Tennessee.

Tawny Mining Bee FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What does the scientific name Andrena fulva mean?

The scientific binomial name Andrena fulva is Latin. The genus name Andrena is new Latin derived from the Greek anthrēnē which means buzzing insect. The species name fulva is Latin for tawny, which describes the reddish-brown color of this species setae. Therefore, the scientific name Andrena fulva means rusty-orange buzzing insect.

What do tawny mining bees look like?

The tawny mining bee is a medium-sized bee with an unmistakable appearance that varies slightly between males and females. Females have specialized setae (bristly hairs) on their hind legs called scopae (singularly scopa) that they use to carry pollen. Females have a dense covering of tawny or rusty orange setae (bristly hair) on the top of their thorax and abdomen, with black setae on their heads, legs, antennae, and undercarriage. Males of the species are much less hirsute. Their thorax has rusty-orange setae (hair) but it is less densely covered, and their abdomens are practically smooth. Males are often mistakenly identified as wasps due to their smooth abdomens. Both females and males have transparent black or dark brown wings, with wingspans of 0.40 – 0.55 inches (10-14 mm). They measure between 0.25 – 0.50 inches (7-12 mm) in length. Females of this species are larger than males.

What do tawny mining bees act like?

Tawny mining bees are solitary bees, meaning that they do not live in colonies with social structures. Instead, they create individual nests in soil or sand, often in sunny and open areas. Tawny mining bees often nest in large aggregates of up to 100 females. However, they are not social and do not form colonies. These bees are active from early spring to early summer and are important pollinators for many wildflowers and crops. They are impressive flyers and can be seen darting quickly from flower to flower. Tawny mining bees are generally not aggressive and do not sting unless provoked or threatened. They are a univoltine species which means that they produce one generation per season.

Where do tawny mining bees live?

Tawny mining bees are native to Europe and Asia, where they are found in a wide range of habitats. Andrena fulva forage in gardens, meadows, woodlands, hedgerows, and other open, sunny areas with loose, sandy soil. These bees prefer to nest in dry, well-drained soil that is not too compacted or heavy, as they require loose soil to dig their underground nests. They are particularly fond of sandy or loamy soils, with abundant vegetation or wildflowers nearby.

Are tawny mining bees an endangered species?

No. tawny mining bees are not currently listed as a threatened or endangered species by any major conservation organizations. However, like many other bee species, they face a range of threats to their survival, including habitat loss, pesticide exposure, and climate change. Population data for tawny mining bees is not widely available, as these bees are not regularly monitored or surveyed in most areas. However, like many other bee species, tawny mining bees have experienced declines in their numbers. In a pleasant reversal of the trend, the tawny mining bee thought to have been extinct in Ireland for 87 years, was re-discovered in 2012 and has been gaining ground ever since!

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Sources

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  5. wiley.com / Accessed March 2, 2023
  6. wikipedia.com / Accessed March 2, 2023
  7. pollinators.ie / Accessed March 2, 2023
  8. buzzaboutbees. / Accessed March 2, 2023