The ‘bee’ beetles, Trichodes species, are so named because they breed in the nests of solitary bees and wasps. There are 20 or so species in Europe, but none is recognized as British. Having said this, two very similar-looking banded black and red species are reputed to have been found here; the understanding is, though, that these are either chance importations or strays making landfall after freak weather conditions or accidentally taking a wrong turn at Calais. If they were ever really native here, they are now presumed to be extinct.
So what do I make of this one?
I found it dead, very dead indeed, on the floor of my 7-year-old’s bedroom, when we were playing with his Lego on 23 August 2012. I’ve identified it as Trichodes apiarius. This is the one with two blue-black bars across the rich red/orange elytra, and with the apex similarly dark. Here’s a better picture of a live one. It’s distinct from Trichodes alvearius, which has three darks bars, and the tip of the elytra red. Again, from the www.koleopteroligie.de gallery, here’s a photo.
I’m pretty certain this is not a resident East Dulwich species. In fact, I’m convinced we accidentally brought it back last week, from our holiday in the Dordogne. I thought I’d seen a Trichodes flying around in the meadow near the gite, although I never bothered to try and chase after it.
I’m guessing that it was already dead, on the floor of the gite, when we scooped up all the assorted Lego pieces we’d been playing with on holiday. The rug was fussily patterned and I had to get down on hands and knees and peer closely to find all the tiny bits of plastic we had scattered around. In the end, Lego collection was by touch rather than by sight. I can quite easily imagine that the beetle corpse had lain by the bed leg all the time we were there, and we’d never have noticed it.
So, sorry, not really a British record of Trichodes apiarius, but I shall take enormous pleasure in writing the data label: Friern Rd, E. Dulwich/ VC17, 23.viii.2012/ import from Dordogne?/ dead amongst Lego bricks.