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795 Views 1 Reply Last post: May 14, 2014 1:43 PM by bombuslucorum - Museum ID team RSS
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May 14, 2014 12:26 PM

Black bee?

Is this a species of all over and feeidng on cerinthe pollen and nectar?RSCN8612.JPG

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    May 14, 2014 1:43 PM (in response to drcab)
    Re: Black bee?

    This is a female example of the Hairy-footed Bumblebee, Anthophora plumipes. Although their appearance is much like a bumblebee, they are in fact a species of solitary bee or mason bee (Hymenoptera: Apidae (Anthophorinae)). Each female builds and provisions her own nest tunnel without the cooperation of other individuals of the same species.

    This is a common and very widely distributed bee in southern Britain and is a common garden visitor. Their flight is very characteristic, rapid and darting, and they rarely land on flowers, but hover before the flower as they nectar. They have conspicuously long tongues which cannot be fully retracted. 

    The sexes are dimorphic; the females are entirely black with a fringe of yellow hairs on the back legs; the males are gingery coloured with a noticeably yellow 'face'. Both sexes can be seen darting rapidly about flower borders from late March through to June. They nectar from a variety of flowers and flowering shrubs and firm favorites include Deadnettle’s, Flowering Currant, Lungwort, Grape Hyacinth, Primrose and also Horse Chestnut.

    In suitable sites females often nest in dense aggregations, the nest burrows are commonly excavated in firm soil and soft mortar joints in walls. Each burrow contains 10-15 cells, each provisioned with a mix of pollen and nectar with a single egg per cell. There is only one generation each year, the current years cohort passes the winter as adults in their sealed cells.

    This bee is fairly commonly reported falling down chimneys in early spring and these are newly emerged bees from nests burrows that were excavated in the chimney stack the previous year. It is not common for these bees to be too destructive to masonry. However, where large nesting aggregations have occurred in brick courses over several consecutive years, then the strength of such structures may be compromised.

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