Belongs to: solitary bees

Compare with: common carder bee
bee fly

Hairy-footed flower bee Anthophora plumipes

Best time to see: early Mar to late May

Key facts

A solitary bee often seen in gardens or parks in early spring, feeding on lungwort and deadnettle flowers

Nests usually in old walls, sometimes in the ground

Widespread across southern Britain, and also across continental Europe


Females are all black except for bright orange pollen brushes on their hind legs; males are gingery with a white face

Both sexes are very active, with a hovering, darting flight – this distinguishes them from bumblebees

Their favourite food plant is lungwort, and they also feed on deadnettle and comfrey


Females make their nest usually in soft mortar or in chinks in old walls, and sometimes dig a burrow in the ground

Where there is plenty of nesting habitat, can occur in large numbers

The young overwinter in the nest and emerge as adults in early March, the males a week or two before the females

  • female
  • male

© Tony Gunton

© Tony Gunton