The BV, Apr 22

Page 78


by Jane Adams

Jane Adams - Naturalist. bTB Badger Vaccinator. Nature writer. Photographer. Bee Watcher.

The hairy footed flower bee is one of the first solitary bees to emerge in spring and people often confuse them for small bumblebees, although their quick darting flight motion is a good way to tell them apart. Image - Jane Adams

The hairy footed flower bee They may sound like a character from a Brambly Hedge book, but Mr & Mrs hairy foot are a quintessential 20’s couple, says Jane Adams She’s a head turner. meet him in the garden staking Orange stockinged and with eyes his claim over pulmonaria, that match the dark velvet of her primroses, dead-nettles, tasselled dress, she somehow daffodils, and cowslips, and has the knack of looking though bumblebee sized, he has glamorous without being garish. a distinctive darting, jazzed-up Her beau’s the way of flying and high“They’re the same; they’re a wellpitched buzz. He gets matched pair. He quintessential his quirky name from sports a loose-fitting 1920s couple. the long, silky gingersuit of reddishbrown hairs hanging Or they would from his middle legs yellow tweed and be, if they as he fusses around and feet, and if you’re her, the fringe weren’t bees” in his territory, he of his silky scarf might try to chase ripples in the breeze. They’re the you away. It’s all bravado. He’s quintessential 1920s couple. Or harmless, and in common with they would be, if they weren’t other male bees, doesn’t have a bees. sting. But these aren’t any old bees. Besides chasing you and insects These are hairy-footed flowerthat stray into his patch, he will bees, one of many harmless hope for a female (or two) to solitary bees that live for just a come and feed, which they do few short weeks in gardens and within a week or two. Black, but green spaces in Dorset. for her gingery-haired back legs, Males appear first, in late the female couldn’t look more February or March, depending different to the male and once on the temperature. You’ll often mated, she’ll make a nest within 78

the soft mortar of a wall or vertical surface of a coastal cliff. Here she’ll leave pollen collected on her orange stockinged legs for her unborn young and, after repeating this several times in several nests, her job is done. She won’t see her progeny grow into adults. By June, she and any males will usually have died, but don’t worry, new head-turners will be back again next year. Fact File: Found: all over Dorset from late February/March until June. The female nests in soft mortar of walls and soft coastal cliffs. Males: bumblebee sized. Ginger/ beige-coloured hairs, cream face. Territorial. Hairy legs. Females: bumblebee sized. Black with orange back legs Fast, darting flight. Hover in front of flowers to feed. Often rest on ground or leaves. Favourite flowers: pulmonaria, red dead nettles, primroses, daffodils.

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