A male hairy-footed flower bee. Photo: Ashley Midkiff, LSU AgCenter.
A hairy-footed flower bee foraging on a flower. Photo: Bumblebee Conservation Trust, United Kingdom.
Delma of Vernon Parish brought a bee to the AgCenter in Leesville for identification.
At first AHA thought the yellow color on the hind legs of this bees was a pollen sac. Also, AHA recruited the assistance of beekeepers on the “beemail” list to help with identifying, and Raymond responded, “This looks like a male Hairy footed garden bee. I had some in my garden in the spring. They came from Europe and are only seen in the spring.”
After Raymond shared his identification, AHA realized that this bee has yellow hair on its leg rather than a pollen sac. Then he conducted an online search and found the same bee under the name of “hairy-footed flower bee” or HFFB.
The websites describing this bee originate from England. The website of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust (BCT), a conservation organization in the United Kingdom, provided this narrative about HFFB, “This species 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. Males and females look very different from each other. Although they are solitary bees (with no workers or social structure) they often nest in large groups, which can be quite noisy.”
The BCT describes the habitat of HFFB, “Frequently found in urban greenspaces, parks, gardens, and woodlands. Nests tend to be shallow hollows in soft mortar, cob walls, exposed vertical soil profiles or soft cliff faces, and occasionally in the ground in compact clay soils. Frequently seen visiting lungworts, primroses, dead-nettles and comfrey.”
At this writing, the HFFB, while an introduced species, seems to be a beneficial pollinator. HFFB can sting but do so infrequently.
How did HFFB arrive in the United States? There is little information on how HFFB came to the US. Fauna europaea, a European database, reports that HFFB arrived in the United States in the 20th century.
Please send your questions and pictures to Keith Hawkins, Area Horticulture Agent (AHA), 318.264.2448 or firstname.lastname@example.org . Also, you can be on the “beemail” email list by emailing your request to the address above.
“This work has been supported, in part, by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Renewable Resources Extension Act Award, Accession Number 1011417.”
“Mention of trade names or commercial products and services in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute endorsement by Louisiana State University AgCenter.”
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