Jane is a naturalist, photographer and nature author dwelling in Dorset. Her work has appeared in books, anthologies and blogs for charities resembling The Wildlife Trusts and the Worldwide Bee Analysis Affiliation. When she’s not exploring Dorset’s lanes and countryside she may be discovered mendacity on her abdomen watching bugs in her backyard. Jane is at the moment learning for an MA in Journey and Nature Writing at Bathtub Spa College and may be discovered: www.janevadams.com and on Twitter @WildlifeStuff
I believed somebody was having amusing after I first heard in regards to the feather-footed flower bee. On the time I used to be new to figuring out bees and assumed it was one of these gullible trainee pranks… “haven’t you seen the feather-footed flower bee but, Jane?” (with a lot sniggering behind arms). I nonetheless hadn’t forgiven my grandad for the hours I’d spent trying to find a left-handed screwdriver after I was a child.
Then I noticed it. It was the top of March 2010, and, what I thought was a ginger-colored bumblebee had simply landed on a daffodil within the backyard. It was one of the primary bumbles I’d seen that 12 months and I dived in with my digital camera to take a photograph. However this wasn’t a bumblebee. This bizarre trying insect had lengthy, luxuriant hairs poking from its center legs, and I realised it needed to be a male feather-footed flower bee, Anthophora plumipes. Plumipes from the Latin for feathered or winged feet.
I now look ahead to recognizing it every spring, because it’s one of the primary solitary bees on the wing (and may generally be seen till the top of Could). Extra quite a few within the south, they’re progressively buzzing up by means of the Midlands, and additional north. Ginger males with yellow faces and feathery legs can usually be seen from the start of March, feeding on a spread of flowers from borage to daffodils and primroses to wallflowers. And, because it possesses an extended tongue, if you happen to plant lungwort (Pulmonaria sp) you stand a great likelihood of tempting a male into your backyard. Then you’ll be able to watch because it buzzes loudly and hovers over your newly planted flower mattress, ready for a feminine and head-butting another insect – or human – that dares to enterprise too shut.
Simply to confuse issues, the feminine seems to be utterly completely different. Nonetheless bumblebee-esque in measurement, she’s jet-black apart from yellow/orange hairs on her again legs (in contrast to the male, hers should not feathery hairs), and he or she’s particularly fond of nesting in particular person cavities inside previous cob partitions, partitions with tender mortar, and sunny vertical cliffs and the edges of quarries.
These days, you’re extra prone to hear individuals discuss with them because the bushy-footed, reasonably than feather-footed, flower bee. However why does the male have these hairs? There are a number of theories, one being that he covers the flighty-feminine’s eyes to calm her down whereas mating. Feathery-feet over your eyes… or bushy-feet? I’ll allow you to select. I do know which one I’d want.
Extra images by Steven Falk: https://www.flickr.com/photos/63075200@N07/albums/72157633009633307/