New bee for England – is it using green roofs in London?

A new bee discovered this year in a small park in London is making the news. The English name for the new species is the Viper’s Bugloss Mason Bee (Hoplitis adunca) after the species’ main food plant. As Viper’s Bugloss is common across the green roofs of London, we are wondering whether it is already using London’s green roofs or will do so in the near future?


Bee - green roofs
The recently discovered Viper’s Bugloss Mason Bee – credit


Use of green roofs by Mason Bees

Mason Bees do use green roofs in the capital. In fact there are quite a few buildings that have appropriate nesting facilities installed on their surfaces.

In 2016, over 20 Red Mason Bees were seen to be using a small bee hotel on a green roof in London Bridge. This roof, in addition, also happens to be covered in Viper’s Bugloss.

Green roof designed for biodiversity - London
Green roof designed for biodiversity – London


A year-long study by a student at the University of East London has set out to establish which solitary bees might be using the city’s green roofs. Bee hotels were installed on a number of different types of green roofs across the capital. It will be interesting to see the results when they are published.

Green roofs in London – could be perfect for the new Viper’s Bugloss Mason Bee

Viper's bugloss on a green roof London Bridge
Extensive green roof in London with the Viper’s Bugloss plant, the new bee’s main food source


London is a biodiversity hot spot compared to the surrounding countryside. The capital sits in a plant hardiness zone similar to the Dorset coast and parts of coastal France. As David Notton who discovered the Viper’s Bugloss Mason Bee notes:

“It needs a hot microclimate and it is at the edge of its [temperature] range” in southern England.

However, he said places such as Dungeness, Rye and Salisbury Plain, where Viper’s Bugloss is common, could also be settled by the bee in future.

Furthermore, as the bee was discovered in the Ecology Park on the Greenwich peninsular, it is worth noting that the Royal Borough of Greenwich is in the top five of a London league table of green roofs (see below). Boroughs are listed according to quantity of green roofs and the type of roofs. So, the ‘new bees’ seem to have chosen the perfect borough for their first appearance. has mapped all the green roofs of London. The Royal Borough of Greenwich was professionally supplied with all data for the borough in 2016. For further information on green roof data, contact us here.

The full article about the discovery of the Viper’s Bugloss Mason Bee by David Notton is here: