Long-horned bee -
Eucera longicornis

Updated: 28th February 2021

I was very please to spot long horned bees close to where I live.  The female was foraging on wallflowers on an old wall.  More than likely I suspect there was also a nest in the same wall just around the corner - as I explain below.

Appearance of Eucera longicornis

On first glance, the female of this bee can easily be mistaken for an Anthophora species - see the male of the hairy-footed flower bee.

Below is an image of a long-horned bee, Eucera longicornis.  

pale ginger female long horned bee foraging on yellow flowersLong-horned bee, Eucera longicornis

Given that this species is the 'long-horned bee', and its Greek name 'Eucera' means 'well horned', you may be wondering about that from the pictures above - i.e "where are the long horns?"

Well, the image above is of a female, and only the males have long horns (i.e. long antennae) as in the photograph below.  

gingery coloured Eucera longicornis male, with long antennae, on blue wild sage flowersLong-horned bee, Eucera longicornis male

Below is a further photograph of the male long-horned bee, taken from Wikipedia.

Long-horned bee, <I>Eucera longicornis</I> - mal on blue flowers - the male has very long, black antennae.Long-horned bee, Eucera longicornis - male. Photograph by Cheryl Cummings; under Wikimedia Commons Licence.

Life cycle and nesting habits of Eucera longicornis

Males are around from May, with females appearing a week or two later.  Females may be seen through to August.  They create burrows in sparsely eroded soil on south facing slopes, old walls or cliff faces.  They tend to nest in aggregations.

Foraging habits of the long-horned bee

pale ginger female long horned bee foraging on orange wallflowersLong-horned bee, Eucera longicornis female on wallflowers

Most text book writings I have come across note that this particular species feeds primarily on flowers from the pea family (Fabaceae) - such as clovers, vetches, bird's foot trefoil.  However, British organisation: BWARS (Bees Wasps And Ants Recording Society) also mentions geranium, bramble, heathers, comfrey and members of the Boraginaceae, Lamiaceae (such as Bugle - Ajuga reptans)  and Liliaceae.  Radish (Raphanus spp) are also mentioned, which is a member of the Brassicae family - the same family as the Wallflower.

Parasites of the long-horned bee

This is a cleptoparasite of the long-horned bee: the six-banded nomad bee - Nomada sexfasciata.  

Six-banded nomad bee - <I>Nomada sexfasciata</I>.Six-banded nomad bee - Nomada sexfasciata - cleptoparasite of the Long-horned bee.

In fact, if you spot these bees patrolling an area of wall or rock face, it's likely there will be long-horned bees nesting there - but beware - nomad bees can look very similar! 

There are similar nomad bees, for example, that target mining, plasterer and mason bees among others.

Brilliant Bees puzzle Book cover

  Pssst ... spread the word!

leafcutter bee on sweet pea plant sweet peas for bees