Lasioglossum smeathmanellum:  Smeathman’s Furrow Bee

Above: Lasioglossum smeathmanellum are tiny, metalic bees.

Did you know, that some bees are so tiny, they could easily be mistaken for little flies?  In fact, this describes many solitary species, including Lasioglossum smeathmanellum (apologies for the quality of the photos - when I zoom in, some of the detail is lost).

It’s almost the end of April, and I took my camera with me as I went for a walk with our spaniel, Charlie, the other morning.

I like to take my camera with me on sunny days, to snap any photographs of interesting insects – including bees, flies, butterflies and other pollinators.  It’s true that I have hundreds and hundreds of unsorted photographs of various invertebrates I simply have not had time to identify, catalogue, and write about, but I thought I would like to write a few lines about this one.

Above: Easy to miss! Lasioglossum smeathmanellum

As stated, this little bee-fellow is  Lasioglossum smeathmanellum – and I love the common name, which I understand (courtesy of Steven Falk’s excellent book, Field Guide To Bees Of Great Britain And Ireland) to be Smeathman’s Furrow Bee.

Smeathman’s Furrow Bee - the common name for this little bee.

I saw quite a few of them, foraging on dandelions – one of my favourite flowers for bees. 

The local habitat is perfect:

A brownfield site, featuring old wall – where they nest in aggregations, plenty of wildflowers – I’ve written about it elsewhere – and including of course, the dandelions.

If you look closely, it’s possible to detect a greenish, metallic sheen to the body, with tomentose (woolly-looking patches of tiny, flattened hairs) on the tergites (abdominal segments) 2 and 3 (where tergites 1 is nearest to the thorax) and sparingly on tergite 4 (although as stated, the photographs aren't that great).

This species is one of 4 metallic Lasioglossum found in Britain, and this bee is most commonly found in southern England and Wales, but scarcer in Northern England, Scotland and Ireland.

Although in flight from around April to September, it is believed the male is not usually around until July. 

I note that BWARS – the Bees Wasps and Ants Recording Society, state this species measure around 4.5mm in length.  Experts don’t always agree, however.  For example, another well regarded Biologist and wildlife photographer, Ed Phillips, records this species as having a length of around 6-7mm in length, which would also be my assessment.


Still, none of this prevents us appreciating the beauty of this little creature, and diversity of bees now.

Solitary Bees by Ted Benton

Solitary Bees by Ted Benton

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John Lewis-Stempel

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