Flavous Nomad Bee

Nomada flava (photo: Andy Pay)This lovely little nomad bee was spotted at Poltesco. Called the Flavous Nomad Bee, it was gorging itself on Three-cornered Garlic.
Photo: Andy Pay


Scientific name: Nomada flava

What to look for:

Colouring and appearance: Wasp-like, small bee. Hairless. Yellow abdomen with broad black stripes, plus red patches higher on the abdomen. Red stripes on thorax and red to orange legs.
Size: Length, to 12 mm.
Where: Fairly common and distributed across England and Wales in the UK, but not Scotland. Generally found in sandy habitats, though it might also be spotted in other habitats, such as wood edges and grassland.
When: Flight time is from April to July.

Nomada flave (photo: Andy Pay)The Flavous Nomad Bee (Nomada flava) is a small, wasp-like bee, no more than 12 mm long. You can get a good idea of its size from the image to the right, in which one is perched on the photographer’s finger, posing nicely (after a heavy meal of pollen and nectar from Three-cornered Garlic) for the camera.

It might look innocent, but species in the Nomada genus are cuckoo bees (otherwise known, more technically, as kleptoparasites). They lay their eggs in the nests of other (usually Andrena) species, leaving the grubs to feed on the food collected the host. The adults emerge in April to feed from flowers, mate and start the next generation of ‘cuckoo’ young.

Nomada flava (photo: Andy Pay)Did you know…?

…There are 28 species of nomad bee found in Britain, all looking rather similar to each other. Each species specialises in parasitising one or two host species.





More information and references:

Chinery, M., 2005. Collins Complete Guide to British Insects. Collins, London.

Published: May 2016
Author: Amanda Scott
Photos: Andy Pay