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Colletes

A genus of small bees with distinctively striped abdomens. There are 9 UK species, all of which are extremely similar in appearance. Fortunately some of these species are either extremely range limited in the UK, or oligolectic on one plant species, simplifying the task of identification somewhat. The species and key information are listed below. All Colletes species make their nests in sandy soil and may form dense aggregations of thousands of bees. These aggregations may attract one of the two Epeolus species which are specialist brood-parasites.

Colletes succinctus
 Colletes succinctus: Oligolectic on heather - the only Colletes likely to be seen on this plant. Flight period end July-August

Colletes hederae
Colletes hederae: Recent colonist to the UK, strongly southern distribution but spreading rapidly. Oligolectic on ivy and has a later flight period than other Colletes (end of September through October)

Colletes floralis: Restricted to a few colonies on the western isles
Colletes halophilus: Restricted to saltmarshes in the east of the UK
Colletes cunicularius: The only spring-flying Colletes, restricted to dunes.
Colletes similis: Very similar to fodiens, but not restricted to sandy areas, see species account for details

Colletes daviesanus
Colletes daviesanus: Small dark species flying from early June (earlier than any other species other than cunicularius), the commonest species in gardens.

Colletes fodiens
Colletes fodiens: Very similar to similis, restricted to sandy areas. See species account for details

Colletes marginatus: Oligolectic on Fabaceae, restricted distribution in the UK (brecks and coastal dunes)