Male (with the redder adbomen)and female (with red and white bands) feeding on Scabiosa ochraleuca in my garden
No interactions present.
Thanks for the reply. Can you advise of a reference (book or website)which gives more info on this group and how they can be differentiated? As I saw them in my garden, I guess I'm likely to see them again later this year.
For a start, I'd agree that these are solitary bees in genus Lasioglossum. It's rarely possible to identify them to species from a photo, as the differences are often microscopic. However, for the right-hand photo the combination of reddish markings on the abdomen, and yellow on the legs and face, are I think enough to confirm this as L. calceatum (male, with 13-segmented antennae - females have only 12 segments and have less elongated abdomens). The most similar species is L. albipes, which usually has more yellow on the legs.
For the other photo I am less sure, but I don't think it is a female, the body shape and the amount of yellow on the legs makes me think it is a male again, although the antennae do look very short - is that just the angle of the photo, or perhaps they had got damaged? I suspect it is another male L. calceatum (which has forms with a dark abdomen as well as the reddish ones), but I can't be sure of that from the photo.
As to identifying these bees, there are no books currently available for the British species, although one is being written by George Else that we hope will be published soon. What little I know about bees has mostly been learnt from going on courses run by BWARS and the BENHS:
The BWARS site does include some downloadable keys, but not for Lasioglossum. There is a good key to take bees to genus level in the Bees of Surrey, by David Baldock (key by Grahama Collins):
But to progress very far down the route of identifying the smaller bees you do need to have specimens and microscopes.
Entomologist and biological recorder
Thanks for the comprehensive reply to my question. I rather assumed they were the same species as I photo'd them at the same time - an elementary mistake I guess!
Lat/Lng: 51.7, -2.6
OS grid ref: SO6208