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.
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.
The Valley Carpenter bee male and female from Wiki photographer Calibas
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..
Hairy Footed Flower Bee Anthophora plumipes and Yellow Archangel Lamiastrum galeobdolon Mint Family.
Watercolour and pencil on Arches HP approx 8 x 8 inches