The Hairy-footed Flower Bee!

I have seen a honey bee and two bumble bees from a distance but at last, today, there was a bee in the greenhouse that I could name. New to me last year although Mary & Tony have been seeing them for a few years now, once seen, never forgotten! It is Anthophora plumipes, the hairy-footed flower bee.

High pitched buzz, almost a whine and very fast with a hovering flight. Usually seen on lungwort (Pulmonaria) flowers in gardens, it is on the wing from late February through to early June. The reasons why it was inside the greenhouse are the echium plants, now in bloom (not hardy here) and it will visit other members of the borage family like green alkanet and comfrey. Hovers in front of a flower extending a long dark proboscus and then dashes away to the next.

This one was a very fresh specimen, quite gingery with a creamy white face that looked as though it is smothered in pollen. Close up, you could see the tufts or fans of long hairs on the joints of the middle legs. This was a male, the females are darker with hairy hind legs. I am sure this is under recorded. Can be confused with the bee-fly but once you see this in close-up, it is larger and more bee-like.

For pictures and more information, click here to go to the BWARS web-page. You can down-load an identification sheet.

Not rare, just interesting!