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.
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).
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.
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!
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.