Wilke’s mining bee (Andrena wilkella) is a summer bee of lawns and farm fields. You typically find males and females foraging on clovers and vetches. A. wilkella is notable because it is active at a time of year when relatively few other Andrena are flying. It is also unusual in that it is one of the few exotic ground-nesting bees in our area –the vast majority of accidentally-introduced bees nest above ground.
One generation per year, active from late May through mid-July.
Widespread, associated strongly with human-disturbed landscapes. Exotic species to North America; introduced from Eurasia (timing of introduction uncertain).
Size ≈ honey bee
Males: smaller than female and covered in pale, grayish-white hair; broken pale hair bands on T2-5
Females: medium-sized mining bee with broad facial foveae; head and thorax with light, reddish-brown hair; hair bands on rims of tergites 2-4, broken bands on T2 and T3; hind tibia generally yellow-orange
- Few other Andrena in our area have a similar flight season or habitat/host plant preferences, so not likely to be confused with other mining bees.
Nests underground in a wide variety of open habitats, including backyards, margins of agricultural fields, and turf grass playing fields.
Prefers legumes (Fabaceae), particularly exotics like clovers (Trifolium spp.), vetch (Vicia spp.), and bird’s-foot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus); common around lawns, old fields, roadsides and other open areas where these plants are abundant.
Not known to be associated with any parasite species in its introduced range in North America. Within its native range in Europe, nests are parasitized by the blunt-jawed nomad bee (Nomada striata).
Page last updated:
February 22, 2023