|[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note|
|HAIRY-FOOTED FLOWER BEE |
Anthophora plumipes (Pallas 1772)
-Anthophora acervorum (Linnaeus 1758);
-Anthophora pilipes (Fabricius 1775);
A. plumipes can be found in a variety of habitats, including most gardens, between March and late May. It looks like a small bumblebee, either black (female) or brown (male) but is clearly distinguished from the bumblebees by its flight. It moves very swiftly then stops, hovering for a moment, in front of its chosen flower. This is very different from the slow, steady flight of the bumblebees. If approached closely enough, which is exceedingly difficult, the male can be seen to have long hairs on the lower parts of the middle legs. These are particularly prominent on the feet which can look as though the bee is wearing long-haired yeti boots.
Confusion with other species is not likely in early spring as no common bumblebee is entirely black nor are the brown bumblebees generally as richly coloured as the male anthophora. The only contenders for confusion are the bee fly, Bombylius major and, later in the season, Anthophora furcata. The bee fly has only one pair of wings, each with a dark band on the leading edge, and a long proboscis. I have not encountered A. furcata, which from photographs looks superficially like the male A. plumipes, but it has a flight period is from May to August or early September. Misidentification is, therefore, possible during the overlap period when A. plumipes is probably best recognised by the females.
P.S. The females are black
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