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Cliff Nesting Bees - Galley Hill

We are quite blessed in RX land with some outstanding bee habitat including the shingle of Dungeness and Rye Harbour, the sand dunes of Camber, the soft rock cliffs from Pett to Hastings and Bexhill and the meadows and woodland within the High Weald. At Galley Hill and Little Galley Hill over the last few days there has been a conspicuous showing of an assemblage of large cliff nesting bees. The noisy aggregations of hairy-footed flower bees (Anthophora plumipes) are attended by numerous common mourning bees (Melecta albifrons), which is a cleptoparasite of Anthophora plumipes. A few dark form Melecta specimens were also present amongst the more common white spotted form (below). 

Melecta albifrons (Photo: Ian Phillips) 

Amongst the numerous cliff mining bee (Andrena thoracica) and yellow-legged mining bee (Andrena flavipes) are smaller numbers of black mining bee (Andrena pilipes), buffish mining bee (Andrena nigroaenea), tawny mining bee (Andrena fulva) and most importantly grey-backed mining bee (Andrena vaga). About 8 females were seen with full pollen loads of Salix pollen nesting in the cliff at Little Galley Hill, as well as 3 males attempting to mate with females returning to their burrows. This is the first proved breeding of the species in Hastings.

Andrena vaga (Photo: Ian Phillips) 

The spring plasterer bees (Colletes cunicularius) are still on the wing at Galley Hill with c.150 nests present in one small area of cliff. They seem to prefer nesting in the landslip spoil (much of it produced by nesting Anthophora plumipes) near the top of the cliff edge.

Andy Phillips


edit: Also recorded was a Nomada sheppardana amongst an aggregation of Lasioglossum morio. This appears to be a first record for the Hastings area.

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