Bradley’s mining bee (Andrena bradleyi) is a diminutive bee of ericaceous shrublands, pine barrens, and blueberry fields. This common, spring-active species has a conspicuously long face which is useful for accessing nectar from the deep goblet-shaped flowers of their host plants.
One generation per year, active from late-March through May.
Widespread throughout region, Virginia north to Nova Scotia.
Size << honey bee
Females: long face created by long malar space; clypeus with a raised, protruding ridge down the middle, tea-colored thorax hairs; thin white bands on abdomen (but may be missing in worn individuals); dark body often contrasts with white Vaccinium pollen
Males: long face like female; white-yellow clypeus, with the coloration often in a “10-gallon-hat” shape; sparse hairs on top of thorax, with white hairs around rim
- Andrena carolina has relatively broader foveae and a more contracted phenology in spring. A. carolina also has a long face, but with short malar.
- Andrena [Melandrena] are also common on Vaccinium, but are both noticeably bigger and stockier than A. bradleyi.
A. bradleyi nests in a diversity of soils near their ericaceous host plants, from sand to rich organic soils and even near acidic wetlands. In looser soils, A. bradleyi cover up their nest entrances upon departure. Known to aggregate. Nests have not been formally described.
Ericaceous shrubs, particularly lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium), highbush blueberry (V. corymbosum), leatherleaf (Chamaedaphne calyculata), black huckleberry (Gaylussacia baccata) and bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi). Males also associate with mayflower (Epigaea repens). Also known to visit some willows (Salix spp.) and ornamental Andromeda (Pieris japonica).
No known parasites of A. bradleyi. Nesting biology poorly known.
Text last updated:
February 22, 2023