"There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion" Francis Bacon 1561-1626

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Hairy Footed Flower Bee.. yet again..Vive la Difference!

To have the Hairy Footed Flower bee  Anthophora plumipes in the set of British Bees and not include those hairy feet would be just confusing, so here is the male, resplendent with those long silky  hairs on his middle leg. 

I first described this chunky little bee with his roman nose and big blue eyes back in November for Deborah’s bee set here. This one is to be the companion to the stylish black female which I have already painted ( see here and below).  This is the only species of bee so far where I have drawn both the male and female and they couldn’t be more different. She is black with orange legs and he is brownish with the yellow face roman nose and of course the long hairs which the female does not have.  

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Female and Male Anthophora plumipes.

Why some male and female bees are so very different in colour I do not know. I have tried to find out, but without much success so I hope to get some answers when I meet up with bee specialists in June. I did read something that seemed to infer an ingenious plan on the part of flowers to aid their own pollination.
The variation  between male and female is referred to a sexual dimorphism, with the colour pattern difference specifically called sexual dichromatism. There are quite a few bees who fall into this category. One of the most striking must be the stunning USA Valley Carpenter Bee, Xylocopa varipuncta, whose male is a huge furry teddy bear of a bee  and whose female is black and shiny. MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA         587px-Valleycarpenterbee2

The Valley Carpenter bee male and female from Wiki photographer Calibas

A UK bee is Andrena fulva  where the female is the showy one.8883967_d98b94c5a3_oAndrena_fulva01  

Male Photo Nigel Jones from Tree Of Life  and female,  photo Jeffdelonge Wiki  

It all goes to make bee identification more fascinating and just a little bit more tricky!

Flowers for the Flower bee

In the UK you can find the Hairy Footed Flower Bee hanging around the labiates (the dead nettles). The males will be waiting for females to show up and  the hairy feet, if you are wondering, are thought to be something to do with courtship, read more here

Blackbird in her excellent blog has some wonderful photos and HFFB  observations here and a great piece about which flowers to plant to  attract these really delightful bees here, which include Comfrey, Tree Germander, Primroses, Rosemary, Grape Hyacinths and Cowslips.

I have provided my bee with a leaf of the beautiful Yellow Archangel for his female-spotting platform..

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Hairy Footed Flower Bee Anthophora plumipes and Yellow Archangel Lamiastrum galeobdolon Mint Family.

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Watercolour and pencil on Arches HP approx 8 x 8 inches

3 comments:

wiseacre said...

I love your illustrations. I've been browsing and can't get enough.

I also read the post: Leaf of the Day: Using Photos and Copying and would be honored if you ever 'stole' one of my photos.

Barbarapc said...

I'm seriously going to have to get a closer look at the bees buzzing around - there are a mess of them at the moment, slightly smaller than the top knuckle of my thumb. My photographic quest. They've been thumping into my office window almost as if they're trying to tell me something. Sadly the herbacetum is so underfunded, all they can do is maintain their paper/floral records. It would be wonderful to be able to see it all on-line.

sharp green pencil said...

Thankyou wiseacre.. that's very very tempting! My photos are less then perfect!
Barbarapc.. good luck! I find it a real challenge to photograph the bees. sometimes just seeing them is hard enough! I am so sorry to hear about the herbacetum. It sounds so wonderful and as you say it would be a great additional online resource. Its the sort of job I would love to do!