The Orange-legged Furrow Bee

As the spring unfolds more and more species of wildlife are beginning to emerge. It has been a tough start to spring though with cold temperatures and lots of rain. I am focusing on bees this year thanks to the publication of Steven Falk’s and Richard Lexington’s new book – the Field Guide to the Bees of Great Britain and Ireland – see here for my mini review of the book.

Yesterday I identified a new species in my garden – the Orange-legged Furrow Bee (Halictus rubicundus).

Orange-legged Furrow Bee 3
When I took this photo I was focusing on the bee on the flower but when I looked at the image (which I have now cropped) I noticed the second ‘striped’ bee on the right.

Orange-legged Furrow Bee 2
Note the orange furry legs – especially on its tibia and the orange fur on its thorax

Orange-legged Furrow Bee 1
In this picture you can also see the four yellowy/orange bands on its abdomen.

Both the bees in these photos are females – the female emerge as early as March and can be on the wing until October. The males don’t appear until mid June. Unlike many species of bee the Orange-legged Furrow Bee is very cosmopolitan – i.e. it can be found in a variety of habitats from coastal sites right up to moorland areas as well as garden. It does however require habitats that are rich in flowers. My garden at the  moment is covered in parts in lesser celandine. They make their nest by burrowing into light soil.

Orange-legged Furrow Bee
Here is the distribution map for the Orange-legged Furrow Bee in the UK (courtesy of the National Biodiversity Network). Inevitably many of the ‘gaps’ in its distribution arise because it has been unrecorded – i.e. not many people can identify the species!

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