Why are Hairy-Footed Flower Bees so called?

27th April 2012
Here in the Midlands, the Hairy-footed Flower Bee (Anthophora plumipes) male, is definitely the bee that heralds in the Spring. For those not so familiar with bees, this may seem like a smallish, very active gingery bumblebee; patrolling, darting and hovering around, with a strident buzz. What helps distinguish it are its white face and the particularly hairy middle pair of legs. Difficult to see in such an active bee though!

I found this rather exhausted male clinging to a wall. I brought him inside and photographed him on a white card. Here you can see his "hairy feet" quite well. The females don't have this. I've read a few theories about how this hairy-leggedness may have evolved. One is that the males drape the hairs over the female's eyes during mating. Female Anthophora plumipes are equally active and easily "distracted". Another observer reports seeing a male holding his midde legs in the air like "warning flags" when mating, and when another couple of males were also showing interest.

Whatever the reason, it gives the bee one of the cutest names in the bee world! See more photographs of this bee in the Image Gallery.


Photo comment By Africa Gomez: Brilliant portrait and great composition. I just found your blog and I love it. Great job!

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