When I first started putting up bee hotels in the garden I so much hoped that I could attract some of the Osmia species to come and nest in them. I knew that putting up the nests was one thing but it was the bees that did the choosing where to nest.
Well, it hasn’t been quite what I expected. I have been so overwhelmed with the uptake of these man-made sites because I have had so many different species of bees nesting in them. In addition, solitary wasps and parasitic flies have used them too. So identification is quite a problem.
I really was not expecting such an array of bees to nest in the bee hotels and it is difficult to identify them. I have not read about Anthophora nesting in bee hotels although over a year ago I was sure I saw Anthophora plumipes using one of the drilled logs in the early spring time.
I reluctantly decided to capture her leaving her nest in September. She is getting old and her wings are tattered but the three submarginal cells are clearly seen. Working through ID keys she has a round head with inner margins of her eyes more or less parallel. The basal vein is more or less straight and she is about 1.5 cm. The lower borders of the second and third submarginal cells are more or less equal. She has black legs with scopa on her hind legs – so I have reached the identification of Anthophora!
Here she is getting measured approximately beside a ruler.
Following a further key for Anthophora I note that she has an entirely black face.
Then bingo! The last tergite is red orange! I wish all bees had a little special something that made their identification clearer. Another name for this bee is the fork-tailed flower bee.
For some excellent photographs and some more information check out Steven Falk’s excellent site.
I would not say that my Anthophora furcata is smaller than the Anthophora plumipes I see here.
Another point of interest is that A. furcata is in the subgenus Clisodon. The charactristic of this subgenus being that the female has a tridentate mandible which could be associated with nesting in rotting wood. The other member of this subgenus A.terminalis readily nests in pithy stems. I think the A. furcata around me are not averse to nesting in the stems of the bee hotel but they do seem to prefer the drilled wooden holes which they continue to excavate and clear out.