A rare bee species has been spotted in the county for the first time.

The dusky-horned nomad bee has been discovered in Lewes Cemetery off Winterbourne Hollow.

Lewes District Council said the find is a “testament to mowing for nature”, whereby the council cuts the grass less often to allow wildflowers to grow.

The council agreed a biodiversity strategy in 2021 and has been implementing a range of measures to encourage pollinators such as bees and butterflies.

The Argus: Lewes Cemetery in September 2023Lewes Cemetery in September 2023 (Image: The Argus)

Visitors to the graveyard had criticised the council after no mowing last summer meant some gravestones were not accessible.

In September, the council apologised for the overgrown state of the cemetery and said it would work to balance biodiversity and accessibility.

James Power, a bee expert and author of the recently published The Bees Of Sussex, discovered a male and female dusky-horned nomad bee in the cemetery, which is the first time the bee has been found in Sussex.

James said: “Dusky horned nomad bees are a cuckoo of the white-bellied mining bee and their presence is a first for Sussex.  The white bellied mining bee is also a rare bee and doing well in the cemetery.

“These aren’t the only rare bees I’ve found there, there are two more notable species, the broad-faced mining bee and its cuckoo, the very scarce fringeless nomad bee – a bee that has only been recorded in Sussex eight times.”

Lewes District Council is working with a wide range of partners to nurture the pollinator-friendly environment at Lewes Cemetery, including Wildflower Lewes, Lewes Urban Arboretum, the South Downs National Park and Idverde, a grounds maintenance company.

Councillor Emily O’Brien, cabinet member for climate, nature and food systems, said: “I’m hugely grateful to the many groups and volunteers who share the council’s determination to encourage pollinators in the district – their support and hard work makes a huge difference.

“The discovery of these rare bees is very exciting and testament to mowing for nature in the district, as opposed to the old approach of cutting the grass as short as possible in all our green spaces.”