(Anthophora pilipes villosula)

Among the least common managed bees in the US is the shaggy fuzzyfoot. This solitary bee is native to Europe and Asia, and is a relatively recent introduction in the US—imported from Japan in the early 1990s by the USDA Bee Research Lab in Beltsville, Maryland.

The fuzzyfoot is a fairly large bee that superficially resembles a drab bumble bee. Like bumble bees, the fuzzyfoot is reputed to have some thermoregulatory ability, and is capable of generating body heat— allowing the bee to forage even in cool and wet conditions. However, this bee apparently has limited winter hardiness, and its management is restricted to warm, humid climates.

Nesting for the fuzzyfoot occurs in exposed vertical banks or dry adobe. Female bees construct cavities by first softening dry mud with nectar or saliva, then they produce an oily secretion which is used to line the brood cells. Stackable adobe blocks, sheltered against rain and moisture, are used as a managed nesting system. Like some other cavity nesting bees, the fuzzyfoot is gregarious and tends to locate nests near its own natal home.

Fuzzyfoot bees are reportedly excellent pollinators of high-bush blueberries, both in the southern US and in Japan. Adult foraging lasts roughly three weeks during the spring, and there is one generation each year.