Aculeate Hymenoptera (Bees, Ants & Wasps)

The sandstone and clay cliffs, banks, grassland, gardens and road verges of Hastings & St. Leonards support a very rich community of bees, wasps and ants. The great majority of this group of insects are solitary and harmless to humans, but without them this planet could not support human life.

Andrena thoracica *3 - Glyne Gap, Hastings
Andrena thoracica – Glyne Gap

These insects pollinate our agricultural crops, fruit trees, and wild plants. The majority of the planets flowering plants and trees depend on these insects to reproduce, and without this diverse and rich plant life the atmosphere would dramatically change, natural water courses would become polluted and anaerobic (without oxygen), basically the planet would cease to be a place where humans could survive. So we owe so much to these insects for our survival.

Eucera longicornis male - covehurst undercliff
Long-horned Bee – Hastings Country Park Nature Reserve

In Hastings a lot of work is being carried out to protect these insects. Large areas of grassland within Hastings Country Park Nature Reserve and Marline Valley Nature Reserve are grazed and managed to benefit bumblebees and long-horned bees. Volunteers work hard each year to create nesting habitat for solitary bees and wasps at Hastings Country Park Nature Reserve and the management of this site is dedicated to protecting nesting and foraging habitat on the cliff, undercliff and cliff-top heathland.

Bee house, Staplecross, East Sussex
Bee House

It is not only within our nature reserves that support populations of these insects, sites such as Castle Rocks, West Marina Garden, White Rock Gardens and West St Leonards Cliffs support populations of some very rare and scarce species. In fact everyone in Hastings who has a garden, allotment, or even just a window box can play their part in the conservation of these insects. Planting nectar and pollen producing plants in gardens, they don’t even have to be native species, can provide a huge amount of foraging habitat for many species throughout Hastings. Bee houses are also excellent for increasing the amount of nesting space for solitary bees and wasps.

Colletes hederae, Barley Lane
Ivy Bee – Hastings Country Park Nature Reserve

Over 250 species of bees, wasps and ants have been recorded in Hastings & St. Leonards including some very rare and endangered species. The check list for Hastings lists the species so far recorded.

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