This intriguing little bee first came to my attention last year when I was studying the Bumblebee's visiting the Flowering Blackcurrant (Ribes sanguineum) in our garden.
And here we are once again after another successful breeding season.
Like a miniature Bumblebee, its their fast darting flight which usually attracts your attention, then as it slows down to hover in front of its selected nectar source, you have a window of opportunity to study it before its off, It appears very restless, there are only a few flowering plants at this time of the year so competition for the available nectar sources must be high.
I first noticed these Bee's in the garden a few weeks ago which ties in nicely with their emergence date of late February to early March, apparently the brown coloured males emerge first, closely followed two weeks later by the black coloured females. They have a single flight period which stretches from February/March to late May, no longer than three months, a very short life span, probably why they fly around so fast, time is short!
They can be quite aggressive to other Bumblebees visiting the shrub, especially if they meet on the same flower, I watched a male see off a much larger Buff tailed Bumblebee, like a fighter plane buzzing a bomber, their speed and agility in the air is quite staggering. They are of course just defending their chosen territory in the hope that they can mate with a visiting female.
|Male Hairy footed Flower Bee|
The female excavates a single burrow which can end in up to six to twelve oval cells, before sealing the cell the female deposits a supply of pollen, lays a single egg on top and seals the cell with soil or mortar, job done.
|Female Hairy footed Flower Bee|
I am yet to find one of these burrows, I suspect they are nesting in my neighbour's old brick built garage close to the flowering blackcurrant, its nice to see them once again.