A few days ago I received an email and photograph from a very excited Julie telling me about a bee that she had just seen in the garden (actually she had rescued it from the bath). She had identified it as a male Hairy footed flower bee Anthophora plumipes. An extraordinary looking bee with, would you believe it, hairy feet! Had I ever seen one? Nope – never even heard of it! I know nothing about bees. However when I spoke to Julie on the group trip to Blean Woods yesterday, I learnt that the female looks quite different to the male and is completely black. And, I had seen an all black bee feeding on Pulmonaria Lungwort flowers in our garden a few days ago.
So this morning (hurrah – the sun was shining) I looked at the patch of lungwort and immediately found 2 males and a female plumipes. How exciting! Sally was summoned and this photograph is the result – the female would just not keep still long enough to have its picture taken though (but she doesn’t have hairy legs anyway). This species is, apparently, quite common and now is a good time to see it. Check your flowers (particularly lungwort) during sunny spells. The bees have a very characteristic rapid darting flight rather like a hover fly or a humming bird hawkmoth (see I am already an expert!)
By chance, Sue had just sent me a copy of “Wild Bees – The Forgotten Pollinators“. It is excellent and worth reading. It explains the problems facing bees and other pollinators and how we can help. It has a guide to pollinating species such as bumble bees. You can download a pdf copy at Link
Why do the males have hairy feet? You will have to wait for Julie to tell us.
Thanks to Julie for all of the information, Sally for the photograph and Sue for finding the pdf link.