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UK Nature  > Bees  > Anthophora plumipes

  • Female pictured above
  • Male pictured above
  • Ventral view of male

Scientific Name:   Anthophora plumipes
Common Name:   Hairy-footed Flower Bee

Anthophora plumipes, commonly known as the Hairy-footed Flower Bee, is a large, bumblebee sized species, that often nests in the soft mortar and exposed cob of old walls. Occasionally it will nest in the ground, preferring bare compacted clay soils. Common and widespread in much of England and Wales, especially in towns, cities and villages. Flies from late February to mid-June, and is extremely fond of visiting Lungwort (Pulmonaria) flowers.

The female resembles a small, black bumblebee with orange-red hairs on the hind leg and a swift, darting flight. Shows a marked liking for Lungwort flowers and often approaches the flower with the long tongue extended. The male looks very different to the female, being largely brown with a dark tail (fresh specimens are often quite gingery - see photo above) and are often among the first bees of the year to emerge (sometimes late February). The cream markings on face distinguish it from all other bumblebees and often hovers in front of flowers and when pursuing females.

The most likely species to be confused with Anthophora plumipes is the Common Carder-bee, Bombus pascuorum (the commonest of the gingery bumbles) and there is an extremely rare species, Anthophora retusa which could easily be confused with this but it is now absent from virtually the entire UK range of A. plumipes.
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