Some bees have started what appears to be a nest of some kind in my garden. I was digging the soil ready for planting and they have 'taken over' a corner of the dug soil. They fly in regularly and are using two holes to enter the soil.
They are not wasps - and not honey bees either. They are a bit fatter in shape looking than honey bees (I think) and are a brown colour (with shades of yellow also). I live in Surrey and in a residential area. I attach some photos - best I could manage with the camera.
Could anyone help identify these bees for me - and advise me whether I need to have them taken away etc.?
Cheers - and thanks in advance,
I don't really know bees well. But I found this site. The bumble bee on those photos looks similar to yours.
I wouldn't see any reason to remove any bees/bumble bees from a garden unless they are european wasps and direktly in a heavyly used area.
These are Red Mason bees, Osmia rufa, which are one of the 250 or so solitary bee species found in the UK. The activity you have witnessed is the female bees collecting moist soil/mud to use for the construction of their brood cells. Each female selects a crevasse or hole in an aerial position in which to make these cells and she packs each cell with a paste made of pollen and nectar which will feed and nourish the single larvae in each cell. Each female provisions her own cells hence the solitary nature of these bees, though they often nest in agregations giving the impression of a colony - but this is more to do with strength in numbers than true sociality. They can sometimes construct nests in peculiar places including door locks and folds in curtains.
This species is also an excelent pollinator of fruit trees and you can even buy nesting tubes to encourage them.
You can also build your own solitary bee homes from bricks and wood with varying sized holes drilled in and sited in a sunny position in the garden - here are some of mine, which are already used by several species and are a-buzz with Red Mason bees at the moment.
Many, many thanks for your replies.
I'm delighted to learn something new about bees - and to know I can leave them alone with little risk of being stung as I move aound the garden