Bees of Y Graig, Llantrisant (WARNING: this has nothing to do with coal tips)

With my growing reputation as the county’s resident ‘bee man’, I have been asked by Rhondda Cynon Taf Council to conduct a number of surveys in addition to my regular work on colliery spoil tips. One of the sites I’ve been asked to survey is Y Graig (or The Graig). For those that are somewhat familiar with the area, Y Graig is a mountain adjacent to the historic town of Llantrisant. The famous Billy Wynt tower (pictured below) is situated on the highest point of Y Graig. With a height of approximately 173m (568ft), Y Graig offers fantastic and far-reaching views across south Wales – a must-see if your in the area.

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Much of the mountain is south-west facing, and a number of footpaths transect the site. With the majority of our solitary bees showing a nesting preference for south-facing slopes, Y Graig could potentially hold a rather diverse bee fauna. This, has however, yet to be explored…but that’s where I come in.

After a morning of report writing, I decided to take advantage of a break in the weather to ‘scout out’ the site. Despite the sunshine, it was rather breezy. After some time walking around and having only seen one species of solitary bee, I was beginning to feel as though Y Graig would be a failure on the bee front. On top of the mountain, it was far too windy so I decided to head back down. Walking down the footpath pictured below, I noticed some nesting Halictus rubicundus (Orange-legged Furrow-bee).

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This seemed like a good spot so I sat and waited for more bees to come along. Not long after being there, a female Sphecodes monilicornis (Box-headed Blood-bee) appeared, the cuckoo of  Halictus rubicundus.

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Sphecodes monilicornis (Box-headed Blood-bee)

Then, a female Nomada lathburiana (Lathbury’s Nomad) appeared. Nomada lathburiana is the cuckoo of Andrena cineraria (Ashy Mining Bee), a species which I also recorded at Y Graig.

 

Several Nomada flavoguttata (Little Nomad Bee) were also observed searching for the nests of their hosts (which are mini-mining bees) on this footpath – so 4 species in just this small area!

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Nomada flavoguttata (Little Nomad Bee)

The bee species list continued to grow as I followed the path downwards. By the time I got back to my car (around 2 hours after setting off), I had 15 bee species on the site list (and I could have added several more if I was a bit quicker with my net!). Here are a few pictures of some of the other bees I observed. It appears that Y Graig is a good site for bees, and repeated visits throughout the spring and summer may well reveal a decent bee list (lets hope so).

Enjoy the pictures.

 

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Andrena flavipes (Yellow-legged Mining-bee)

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Andrena fulva (Tawny Mining Bee)

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Andrena haemorrhoa male (Orange-tailed Mining-bee)

Andrena_nitidaF

Andrena nitida (Grey-patched Mining-bee)

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Bombus sylvestris (Forest Cuckoo Bee)

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Nomada fabriciana (Fabricius’ Nomad)

 

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Fungus believed to be ‘extinct’ in Wales is re-discovered on a colliery spoil tip

 

 

A fungus believed to be extinct in Wales has been re-discovered on colliery spoil in south Wales. Cudoniella tenuispora was last recorded in Wales in 1958 and was believed to have become ‘extinct’ due to a long absence of records for the species. Emma Williams of Glamorgan Fungus Group discovered Cudoniella tenuispora growing on pine cones (Pinus spp.) near the famous Tower Colliery, Hirwaun.

Tower Colliery operated from the early 19th century to 2008, making it the oldest continuously working deep-coal mine in the United Kingdom. Tower Colliery was the last deep mine to close in the south Wales valleys.

Specimens of Cudoniella tenuispora have now been sent to the Royal Botanic Gardens (Kew) for DNA sequencing for inclusion into the Genbank (a DNA sequence repository) and Kew’s Fungarium.

 

Liam Olds

Colliery Spoil Biodiversity Initiative