A SURVEY OF THE BEES AND WASPS OF FIFTEEN CHALK GRASSLAND AND CHALK HEATH SITES WITHIN THE EAST SUSSEX SOUTH DOWNS
Steven Falk, 2011
For six years between 2003 and 2008, over 100 site visits were made to fifteen chalk grassland and chalk heath sites within the South Downs of Vice-county 14 (East Sussex). This produced a list of 227 bee and wasp species and revealed the comparative frequency of different species, the comparative richness of different sites and provided a basic insight into how many of the species interact with the South Downs at a site and landscape level. The study revealed that, in addition to the character of the semi-natural grasslands present, the bee and wasp fauna is also influenced by the more intensively-managed agricultural landscapes of the Downs, with many species taking advantage of blossoming hedge shrubs, flowery fallow fields, flowery arable field margins, flowering crops such as Rape, plus plants such as buttercups, thistles and dandelions within relatively improved pasture. Some very rare species were encountered, notably the bee Halictus eurygnathus Blüthgen which had not been seen in Britain since 1946. This was eventually recorded at seven sites and was associated with an abundance of Greater Knapweed. The very rare bees Anthophora retusa (Linnaeus) and Andrena niveata Friese were also observed foraging on several dates during their flight periods, providing a better insight into their ecology and conservation requirements. There was evidence that the low coverage of unimproved chalk grassland on the South Downs today following much loss and fragmentation in the last century may have resulted in some serious declines of certain bees and wasps and several probable local extinctions.
Cite as: Falk, S.J. 2011. A Survey of the bees and wasps of fifteen chalk grassland and chalk heath sites within the East Sussex South Downs. 76 pages. Selfpublished.
Report downloadable from the Sussex Biodiversity Record Centre:
Also the Bee, Wasp and Ant Recording Society website: www.bwars.com