Buzz updates & B Hortorum and Honeysuckle, early stages.

As I said in a recent post my Dad was not one to mope about its back to work, back to bees, commissions and design work.  In between all the ups and downs of the last couple of weeks there have some good things happening on the bee front. Excitingly I will be teaming up with the Bee Guardians next year for some projects.

Also for next year more exhibitions are planned at Easton Walled Gardens and  Nature in Art, both a week long this time and with painting workshops attached. There are some talks, some one day exhibitions and painting classes planned. On the products front there may be some ceramics, some jewelry and more prints and cards.

And I have a million other ideas. Waiting in the wings there may be a house and a garden, with….joy of joys….a workshop.   Busy is good. And on Monday 10th Oct I will be at the London Honey Show, 6 –9 pm with prints, books and cards .. will be fun.  More details tomorrow.

Bombus Hortorum and Honeysuckle But right now I am working on B hortorum and Honeysuckle a commission for Peter and Di. In preparation for teaching people about painting insects and bees next year I decided to record a step by step for this one.  Here are the first few stages of the bee. Sketches for pose and ideas for flowers, positions etc… but all may change:

horto sketch sm      sketch1

Positioning on the paper:

col bee 1

First Colours: built up with directional strokes and refining as I go

bee1      bee 2

bee 3

I had roughed in the shapes of the flowers with a few faint lines to be able to position the bee. I use a soft pencil and very light strokes so that I can erase what I don’t want.
Now I start to think about how they will really work with the bee. It’s best to experiment on tracing paper first. The paper underneath really must be kept clean for this sort of work!!   aggghhh…..


So close after my father’s death there is an extra poignancy to painting this bee, because I based the design on my observations of Bombus hortorum, the Garden Bumble Bee, which I watched for hours on Dad’s honeysuckle last year.

I had seen how they hold onto the sides of the flower and sometimes rest their back legs on the lower petal. So I decided to show this one on its approach flight, front feet outstretched to grasp the sides of the upper petal.

Tongue, I think, will be outstretched. The long tongue is such a feature of these bees and allows them to access nectar from these long tubular flowers. But I am not quite sure yet. I do change things as I go quite a bit!.. paper permitting :). Sometimes it’s such a struggle to keep that pristine white paper clean!

hortorum dads garden

Bombus hortorum, Dad’s garden, 2010

Wild about bees: The “Buzz” at Easton.. what a Great Weekend!

My wild bees and me; we are just back from our weekend show at Easton Walled Gardens.

I had such a wonderful time and talked bees non stop to so many very nice people. (I haven’t met a bad bee lover ever!!). I have never thought of myself as much of a campaigner but, as was pointed out to me several times, I have, perhaps, found my “cause”.
I try not to slip into “bee bore” mode and try to stop before people glaze over .. but  “Thank you, I have really learnt so much today” was the best feedback I could hope for.

So many people said they would now think more about our bees when they plant the gardens, all my leaflets on bee flowers went and so did my small stock of BUZZ books and I’m printing prints for orders on the day and re-ordering the postcards.

People reading the flowers notes were either congratulating themselves or making notes for future planting but were also telling me all about their own observations. One of the first ladies who came into the show brought a photo, on her mobile phone, of a bee nesting in a bird-box on her wall… I was able, very confidently, to tell her she has a little colony of the lovely Tree Bumble Bee, Bombus hypnorum. She was delighted!

Many people also have humming houses like our cottage, full of mason bees. People were surprisingly fascinated by the pinned specimens and my small collection of deceased bees and stroking a tiny velvety bee proved popular with both the kids and their parents.

There were lots of “Ahhhs”. So it’s thanks to all who came, those who braved the rain on Monday and those who said such very kind things about the paintings and the bees.

And a specially big thanks to bee fan Ursula, Lady Cholmeley and all the staff at Easton for not only making the show happen but also for creating a fabulous bee friendly garden with many bee favourites and gorgeous drifts of wildflowers and natural planting.  We got a mention in The Times, Country Life, Woman and Home and Radio Lincs…

Hurrah.. let’s hear it for our wild bees!!!

We are considering something bigger and better next year.. watch this blog! Currently the Easton bees are particularly enjoying the huge exuberant border of catmint and the self seeded phacelia! So just a few more of the bees that you will be able to see right now: Lovely lapidarius, with her glorious red tail,  such a favourite bee with everyone, on the catmint.


Pretty Phacelia is one of the top 20 honey-producing flowers for honeybees! Check out its amazing blue/black pollen on this bees legs!

black pollen
Pascuorum on lupin


also on the drifts of pretty little speedwell…

Little HHFB,  the hairy footed flower bee on this beautiful blue green plant that I can never remember the name of…


and a late and hopeful male osmia.. I think..


Do visit this beautiful garden if you have a chance.. it’s wonderful.. and my favourite lunch there is the pea green soup.. its like eating all the goodness of the earth whizzed up together and served with gorgeous locally baked warm bread..




*******  BLOG UPDATE 2nd June… Blackbird has come to my rescue..and not for the first time .  The beautiful plant I could not remember the name of is Cerinthe Blackbird has the really excellent BUGBLOG check out her fascinating post on the lovely hypnorum!

My last Bee, the Dark Honey Bee “…as sweet as tupelo honey, Just like honey from the bee” …

Did you think I had forgotten the Honey bee.

How could I. 🙂

That’s where this whole bee thing started,  on a trip home just a year ago, when I found our old beehives, which made me look up my local beekeeper Joe, who gave me some bees.
I made this painting, Number Two Bee  I put it on the blog, Deborah saw it. I painted 16 bees for her, and then the exhibition came along..  and here I am, a year on about to leave for the UK again this time with my 24 bees.

The Hardy English Dark honey bee, Apis mellifera mellifera

For my honey bee I decided to paint the old English Dark  Honey Bee the original British bee that colonised northern Europe after the Ice Age. Compared with other honey bees they are thought to be more aggressive  but have thicker coats and are more robust, making it easier for them to withstand  bad weather and cold winters and there are moves afoot to make this beautiful little bee more popular again.


Dark honey bees from  SICAMM an international union of beekeepers, regional and national associations,etc who support the  conservation of this threatened subspecies. see more here In 1917,  Roots famous “ABC and XYZ of Bee Culture” had this to say:

(They) are much more nervous: and when a hive of them is opened they run like a flock of sheep from one corner of the hive to another, boiling over in confusion, hanging in clusters from one corner of the frame as it is held up and finally falling off in bunches to the ground , where they continue a wild scramble in every direction probably crawling up one’s trouser leg, if the opportunity offers”

But on May 18th just last year The Independent said this:

For decades, Britain’s native black bee has been an outcast. The Victorians threw Apis mellifera mellifera out of hives in favour of more industrious foreign species. Modern beekeepers brand it lazy and aggressive.Scientists believe the insect that made honey for the tables of medieval kings could reverse the collapse of bee numbers that has imperilled the annual pollination of crops worth £165m.The Bee Improvement and Bee Breeders’ Association (Bibba) believes the black honeybee, which has a thicker coat, could be hardy enough to survive the 21st century. see here

So perhaps beekeeping in the UK is about to have a little more frisson of risk and trouser legs should be firmly tied at all times. Bibba (Bee Improvement and Bee Breeders’ Association) certainly think it is a worthwhile bee. They are champions of the “Dark bee.” This is from their article “Why The Native Bee Is The Best Bee For The British Climate”

“It is the experience of people who keep the Dark bee in this country that the bee will produce surplus honey every year, even when the summer is so cold and wet that bees of foreign origin have to be fed sugar to keep them alive. ….These characters, together with a population of long living worker bees, provide an optimum number of foragers ready to take full advantage of any short nectar flows during periods of unsettled weather.” read  more  here.

There is also another excellent article all about the origins of bees in general on their site.. “An introduction to understanding honeybees, their origins, evolution and diversity” , it’s a good read and reveals more of the  Dark Bee’s stalwart British character .. “will fly in dull and drizzly weather which would keep Italian bees indoors”..

I had to laugh!   Bibba is looking for help with their Project Discovery “Dark Bee” survey and research. See this page here if you think you can help.

Honey and Bees..a question or two?
Do we ask too much of bees sometimes ..We expect them to pollinate vast areas of produce, and we take their honey which they need for their own survival and well being.
Are we, as always, too greedy? Do we take too much honey? What do we give them  in fair return?
I am not sure and I have asked myself this many times. However my last breakfast in the USA will be fresh fruit with yoghourt and pale pale beautiful real Tupelo honey bought from my local beekeeper, Joe whose little honey bee was my first model.. I have come full circle Joe!


My little black bee Apis mellifera mellifera
perched on the lid of one of my honey jars.. I have many!…

Mellifera mellifera

Watercolour and pencil on Arches HP 8” x8”

A Pembrokshire Buzz; The Beautiful Shrill Carder Bee

The last Bumblebee for my British Bees set, the lovely Shrill Carder bee B. sylvarum, one of the smaller members of bumblebee family and endangered.

As with the Great Yellow Bumblebee I received some help and advice from one of the conservation officers at the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Pippa Rayner.

The shrill carder bee is her baby.. lucky Pippa! .. and in February this year the trust won 30,000EURs funding towards this great bumblebee project on the Pembrokeshire Coast!..Pippa says :

We will be creating a wildflower-rich habitat to support rare bumblebees along a new 10km path in the Pembrokeshire National Park. By connecting key sites, this attractive route through spectacular scenery will help prevent the national extinction of the shrill carder bee.

The project will benefit lots of other wildlife too; Wales, like the rest of the UK, has lost most of its wild flower grasslands, so creating and restoring these habitats will benefit the plants, butterflies, bees, birds and other beasties that depend upon them. It will also create a lovely place to walk, with flowers and bumblebees along the path that takes walkers, horseriders and cyclists through areas that were previously inaccessible, thanks to the new route provided by the MOD”We’ll be bringing extra colour and ‘buzz’ to beautiful Pembrokeshire!

I wish her well and what a very good reason to visit one of the most beautiful parts of Wales. It takes quite a while for things to happen though doesn’t it! Back in 2006 at the launch of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Professor Dave Goulson told the Independent newspaper this:

“UK nature reserves are simply too small.The only way to provide sufficient areas of habitat for bumblebees is if the wider, farmed countryside, and the vast areas covered by suburban gardens, are managed in a suitable way. To do this we need to educate people, and encourage activities such as the planting of wildflowers and traditional cottage-garden flowers in gardens, the replanting of hedgerows, and the recreation of hay meadow and chalk grassland habitats..

This echoes Buglife’s wonderful vision of the “Rivers of Flowers” earlier this year.










Bombus sylvarum from James Lindsey’s Ecology of Commanster Site, via Wiki here. (**James’ site is wonderful)

A Greenish Bee

From Sladen: “ The prevailing colour is greenish-white, often with ayellowish tinge.” From the Natural History Museum: “Fresh pale B. sylvarum are almost unmistakable in Britain with their ‘greenish’ yellow hair.” From Arkive It has a distinctive combination of markings, being predominantly grey-green, with a single black band across the thorax, and two dark bands on the abdomen. The tip of the abdomen is pale orange.”


The Flower: Devils Bit Scabious Succisa pratensis

I asked Pippa about which flowers this bee favours and she told me it likes several plants in particular, including red clover Trifolium pratense, yellow rattle Rhinanthus minor, common bird’s-foot trefoil Lotus corniculatus , common knapweed Centaurea nigra, red bartsia Odontites verna. But,
I would suggest devil’s-bit scabious would be ideal as this is an important plant at Castlemartin in Pembrokeshire where it provides forage for the shrill carder later on in 

the summer”


from Shutterstock by Andrey Novikov .

So the lovely little Devils Bit Scabious it is.
The curious name coming from the root form which looks cut off, or bitten off. Legend says the Devil found it in the Garden of Eden but was envious of the little flower’s many good and helpful properties so bit off part of the root, but the plant survived.
There is a curious little piece in the Edinburgh Review’s 1809 review of J. E. Smith’s “Introduction to Botany “1809 . Smith is talking about root systems and quotes Gerards of herbal fame.

“ old Geralde is quoted ‘ ‘The great part of the root seemeth to be bitten away; old fantastick charmers report that the divel did bite it for envie, because it is an herbe that hath so many good vertues and it is so beneficial to mankinde.’: And the Doctor facetiously adds that “the malice of the devil has unhappily been so successful that no virtues can now be found in the remainder of the root or herb.’”

However Culpepper has the plant curing plague, pestilence, external and internal problems alike, plus snake bites and wounds. Another useful plant to have around, not only for the bees! Let’s hope it get on well in Wales without the Devil’s interference. It’s the prettiest pale lilac little thing.. quite beautiful.

The Painting

A few roughs and on with the painting. The grey-green pile looks more grey than green against the white paper but a simple mix of Payne’s grey and yellow was a good colour for it. It’s a very pretty hairy little bee!

syv sketch 2


The Beautiful Shrill Carder Bee, Bombus sylvarum zooming in at full throttle to the Devils Bit Scabious

shrill carder sm

Watercolour and pencil on Arches HP 8 x 8”

***PS.. there is a super little Bumblebee film here by Jamie-Lee Loughlin

Who’s home or even whose home?

I decided to make this small addition to the Buzz Exhibition set, because, as well as seeing bees busy around flowers, you might just see a little solitary bee head peeping out at you from various holes.

Holes in the ground, in wood, in the dried and hollow stems of plants or in the old crumbling mortar in walls.
I always think the best nature guides have information about where you might find things.. and after all, “home” is where you will find most of us some of the time.
I took this a couple of weeks ago.  A little mining bee dozing at its burrow entrance just below our balcony.

bee at nest

So who might you see? A tawny mining bee looking up at you from her volcanic activities in the lawn; the wasp like white face of a Hylaeus peering at you from an old nail  hole in a wooden fence.

You might see the dark face of Osmia rufa, the orchard bee emerging from her new bee home which a kind hearted  person has provided for her.
If you are lucky you might catch a delightful male Megachile willughbiella complete with moustache and furry front legs. emerging from some crumbling mortar in an old wall or even an opportunist home in a garden hose, or old door lock.

It’s a lovely bee which I have yet to draw. I can’t quite understand why it is so endearing when wild things use our old discarded bits and pieces for their nests.
We had an old clock case in the potting shed where a robin made its nest every year and last summer my friend Gill ‘s son could not use his jacket until the wren and her little ones had decamped from the pocket. It’s a whole other set of paintings!

Who’s Home?


Watercolour and pencil on Arches HP 8”x 8”

The Long Horned Bee again.. Eucera, Ophrys and Vetch.

Eucera longicornis

The gorgeous handsome Long Horned bee Eucera longicornis with his wonderful long curving antennae had to be included in the British Bee set although they are quite rare. In the UK you may catch a glimpse of one depending on where you are.
Go to the BWARS great interactive maps to see which bees you can see where in the UK. Here are Jeremy Earley’s notes from the excellent “Woodland and Hedgerow bees” part of his Nature Conservation Imaging Site:

“Eucera longicornis is scarce and was made a Biodiversity Action Plan priority species in 2007. They are seen from May to July in various locations including coastal grassland (the Isle of Wight is good) and heathland as well as open woodland rides. They use only the Pea family for pollen collecting.“

So you might be lucky! It would be wonderful. I did see a small bee with very long antennae here last year which could have been a squash bee.. but of course no camera at the time.
I painted this bee before back in December for Deborah’s set “Eucera the Curiously Goat-Like Longhorned Bee. Eucera nigrescens

There is another longhorned bee Eucera nigrescens which is even rarer in the UK but can be found in Europe and has been chosen as the Swiss conservation group Pro Natura’s “Animal of the Year “ for 2010. From an excellent article on here :

“By choosing this particular bee as its animal of the year, Pro Natura has highlighted the fragile balance between the world’s flora and fauna. Part of the reason for this is the lack of suitable accommodation. Wild bees such as Eucera nigrescens build their nests in the ground, typically in meadows, gravel pits, fallow land and orchards.”


Eucera nigrescens and another of Nico Vereecken’s wonderful photos from another short article at Read more here.

“Eucera nigrescens , is described by Pro Natura as a “furry pollen taxi”. It plays a vital role in pollinating the Ophrys holosericea orchid.”The orchid fools the insect by imitating the shape and smell of the female. The male bee comes along to mate, and receives a load of pollen instead, which it passes on to the next plant it visits.”


The Ophrys orchids, often just referred to as the “Bee orchids” are the bizarrely beautiful orchids whose flowers have developed to resemble the furry bodies of bees and other insects (reproductive mimicry).
Some emit pheromones which are attractive to male Eucera Andrena, Anthophora, and Colletes, bees, who are tricked into trying to mate with them.
We do have the Bee orchid O. apifera in the UK and you might think it would be a good place to spot a long horned Eucera bee but apparently they have become self pollinating .. how curious?
Is this because of a lack of suitable bees? I had hoped to be drawing a bee orchid for this exhibition.. another time. This is from Dr. Alan J. Silverside’s excellent page on the British Bee Orchid on the University of Paisley’s Boidiversity Reference site here

“The genus Ophrys is a large and predominantly mediterranean genus, with just a few species reaching Britain. O. apifera is much the most widespread and frequent of these. It has to be admitted, however, that O. apifera is not a good example of reproductive mimicry, as it is predominantly self-fertilising. It is visited and pollinated by bees of the genera Andrena and Eucera (Lang, 2004), but only rarely, and these are mining bees, similar in general appearance to honey bees (Apis), and so at least visually quite unlike the flower of O. apifera.”

Bee / orchid …orchid / bee? You can maybe judge if you think the plants do a reasonable job, compare the female bee below with the orchids.


These again from Gordon Ramel’s great solitary bee site

470px-Ophrys_scolopax_ssp_scolopax_b     image

Ophrys scolopax Portugal by Carsten Niehaus at Wiki and the UK Bee Orchid Ophrys apifera by W Fricke also from the University of Paisley’s Boidiversity Reference site here.


The Spider Orchid Ophrys fuciflora …no ribald comments about the name please : )  with its enthusiastic pollinator Eucera longicornis photographed in the North of France by Eric Walravens from the super Belgian Orchid site

The Painting

It seemed a gift that the bee with these wonderfully curving and exuberant antennae should like the pea family Fabaceae with its curling tendrils.
I did wonder if there was any connection? Probably just a coincidence. So here is the gorgeous little furry male Eucera longicornis poised on the curving branch of the Common Vetch, Vicia sativa which can be used for livestock fodder or green manure or just a pretty wildflower. Horses like it too! A few roughs to sort out the curves

sketch 1 sketch 2 smsketch 3sm


The Longhorned Bee Eucera longicornis


eucera sm

Bee Prints!

I did say I would try and get some prints done didn’t I. They may well end up being as rare as hen’s teeth as I can only get a few done before the show.  However dear blog readers I am putting them on my Waving Bee Blog as I get them done over the next few days.

waving bee     leafcutter print sml[3]

The little Leafcutter Bee is the first…I have 4 for sale on the blog and a couple more on the Etsy shop with a  favourite “Bee and Gingko” etching print. (I am just seeing which works best for me.. maybe both.)

If you do nothing else, go and see my amazing animation of the Waving Bee! I just know Dreamworks will be on the phone this afternoon.. 🙂

“Waving Bee” will hopefully have quite a few bee things when I get back to my original bee ideas and projects later this year, which were never really bee portraits.

Hopefully we can help some bees along the way too..  I am only selling these first few to the USA as I will be in the UK in just over a weeks time and will have some at the show and will post some online too for Uk delivery..

If you have any favourites which you would like prints of,  do let me know and I will do my very best to oblige!

The Great Yellow Bumble Bee and the Machair.. (a Bee for Esme)

It’s always nice to have someone in mind when painting things and this bee came about due to a note from my friend Esme who lives way up north on the Isle of Lewis. She wrote to me saying that they had seen quite a few of these big and beautiful endangered Bumble Bees while walking on the “machair”.

I have never seen the machair but judging by the photos, it is a sight to behold! Swathes of flowers starting with yellow hues in May,( is it like that now Esme?) changing to pinks and purples with both the month and the underlying soil composition. It must be very beautiful and has to join my long list of “things still to be seen”

“The principal remaining strongholds for Bombus distinguendus are in the Scottish machair grassland. Photo © D Goulson” from the Natural History Museum, read more here.

What is the Machair?

This is from a short but very informative article by Jennifer Young here

‘Machair’ is a Gaelic word, usually taken to refer to an area of low-lying fertile land. Over the years it has come to be used by ecologists to refer to a specific coastal habitat, related to predominantly west-facing coastal areas backed by sand dunes, which is found only in some areas of northern and western Scotland and western Ireland.

“Most of the plants found on the machair are not rare (there are exceptions, such as orchids and lady’s tresses). It is the extraordinary abundance of flowering plants which makes it special. Lady’s bedstraw, bird’s foot trefoil, harebells, clover, tufted vetches, daisies and many others, benefiting from a traditional absence of chemical herbicides, form a carpet of flowers in spring and summer. The crofters who farm the machair have also traditionally not used pesticides, so that the land supports a strong and varied insect and invertebrate population. SNH identifies the two most notable species to be found here as the great yellow bumble bee, which is threatened by habitat loss, and the belted beauty moth.”

It’s another sobering example of how pesticides do so much harm to those creatures we really need. There is plenty of info about this very special habitat on the internet and more details about the flowers here from

The Great Yellow Bumble Bee Bombus distinguendus

For the painting I contacted the Bumble Bee Conservation trust for some more info re the bee and its flower preference. You can read much more about the BBCT’s work to protect it here and Bob Dawson, who is the conservation officer in charge of the project also has a blog here. Bob’s photo of the GYBB .. the colours are always brighter the younger they are .. this is, in Bob’s words “a fresh worker”

GYB fresh worker







The Great Yellow Bee is just that, very big and very yellow! They have a body length of 12-21mm, and the yellow is a bright lemon rather than the softer orange yellow of other bumble bees. It is a relatively late bee, emerging in May, so takes advantage of the flowers of the machair and likes legumes, yellow rattle, marsh woundwort, knapweeds and thistles and many others and is not a particular specialist.

Its survival in the machair particularly is thought to be partly due to its relatively long tongue which enables it to feed on the long petaled flowers such as the vetches, knapweeds, and clover, many of which have disappeared from other UK habitats. USA readers!!!!

Don’t worry you too have a couple of very similar beautiful bees, the closely related Bombus borealis and Bombus appositus. Bombus borealis by Mardon Erbland from Bugguide






Bombus appositus by
Lynette Schimming also from Bugguide

Black Knapweed Bob suggested that I draw Black Knapweed Centaurea nigra to accompany the bee, which is rather nice because although not quite the magnificent Scotch Thistle Onopordon acanthium, it is a relation and has a Scottish air about it but without the thorns. (I have lots of Scottish blood so a nice thistle makes me feel at home!) Photo by Anita Gould from Tree of Life Web Project here







The knapweeds are a very interesting group of plants in general, with both dye and medicinal uses. The dreaded Spotted Knapweed Centaurea maculosa (branded noxious and invasive in the USA) was thought to have a curious defence mechanism, and that by producing a natural herbicide “catechin”, it could rid the surrounding ground of competing plants.
It’s called ‘plant-plant allelopathy’ and is quite a feat for a plant. It is a defense mechanism used by other plants but not entirely clear if it’s true of knapweed or not .. read more here. It’s fascinating

The Painting

I knew I wanted an indication of the “carpet” of the machair flowers running along the bottom of the image and my initial roughs had a more or less standard side view

sk sm.jpgsketches 2

but after some thought I decided to tip the perspective a bit and have more of the worms eye view of this beautiful big bee, hovering over the black knapweed.

sketchgreat yellow

So here is the brilliant

Great Yellow Bumble Bee Bombus distinguendus .. (thank you Esme.) What a shame it would be if these magnificent creatures died out.

great yellow bumble bee sm

Watercolour and Pencil on Arches HP 8”x 8” approx

Late Summer Bee Flowers

Bees in general emerge at different times of the year and it’s easy to think they are just around in the summer when there are plenty of flowers but many species will need food in early Autumn. In September last year there were many bumble bees, honey bees and solitary bees still busy in the garden, so, in planning the bee garden some late flowers are essential. “Late” can depend where you are of course, but here are just a few:

amemone     sea holly copy

Japanese Anemone, the most beautiful and elegant of plants, and Sea Holly.
I think the Eryngiums are particularly beautiful and there is very striking one called Eryngium leavenworthii which is worth seeking out

sunflower     aster copy

Bees love Sunflowers and particularly Michaelmas Daisies. A great plant to watch bees on, as they are too busy foraging to notice you!

ivy copy      fuschia copy

Ivy and Fuschia, Let the ivy bloom for the pretty Ivy bee and the bumblebees seem to love the endlessly flowering shrub fuschia in my Father’s garden.

heathersedum smjpg

Heather and Sedum. Heathers will bloom all season for bees and plant any of the many fascinating Sedums, or “stonecrops” which look so lovely in late summer and are great for green roofs!


I will get around to making the notes on the sketches soon! It’s very hot here this weekend and not conducive to work at all!

Hot Sloth

hot sloth

Hairy Footed Flower Bee.. yet again..Vive la Difference!

To have the Hairy Footed Flower bee  Anthophora plumipes in the set of British Bees and not include those hairy feet would be just confusing, so here is the male, resplendent with those long silky  hairs on his middle leg.

I first described this chunky little bee with his roman nose and big blue eyes back in November for Deborah’s bee set here. This one is to be the companion to the stylish black female which I have already painted ( see here and below).
This is the only species of bee so far where I have drawn both the male and female and they couldn’t be more different. She is black with orange legs and he is brownish with the yellow face roman nose and of course the long hairs which the female does not have.

hhfb sm    hairy footed flower beesm

Female and Male Anthophora plumipes.

Why some male and female bees are so very different in colour I do not know. I have tried to find out, but without much success so I hope to get some answers when I meet up with bee specialists in June. I did read something that seemed to infer an ingenious plan on the part of flowers to aid their own pollination.
The variation  between male and female is referred to a sexual dimorphism, with the colour pattern difference specifically called sexual dichromatism.
There are quite a few bees who fall into this category. One of the most striking must be the stunning USA Valley Carpenter Bee, Xylocopa varipuncta, whose male is a huge furry teddy bear of a bee  and whose female is black and shiny.

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA     587px-Valleycarpenterbee2 T

he Valley Carpenter bee male and female from Wiki photographer Calibas A UK bee is Andrena fulva  where the female is the showy one.

8883967_d98b94c5a3_o     Andrena_fulva01

Male Photo Nigel Jones from Tree Of Life  and female,  photo Jeffdelonge Wiki

It all goes to make bee identification more fascinating and just a little bit more tricky!

Flowers for the Flower bee In the UK you can find the Hairy Footed Flower Bee hanging around the labiates (the dead nettles).
The males will be waiting for females to show up and  the hairy feet, if you are wondering, are thought to be something to do with courtship, read more here.
Blackbird in her excellent blog has some wonderful photos and HFFB  observations here and a great piece about which flowers to plant to  attract these really delightful bees here, which include Comfrey, Tree Germander, Primroses, Rosemary, Grape Hyacinths and Cowslips.

I have provided my bee with a leaf of the beautiful Yellow Archangel for his female-spotting platform..


Hairy Footed Flower Bee Anthophora plumipes and Yellow Archangel Lamiastrum galeobdolon Mint Family.

flowerbee sm

Watercolour and pencil on Arches HP approx 8 x 8 inches