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Anthophora / digger Bee

Family: Apidae

Genus: Anthophora

Common Name: Digger Bee


Physical Appearance

Both males and females have fuzzy, grey or buff colored hairs on thorax, with a darker, often banded abdomen.

The female carries pollen in a brush of specialized hairs, called a scopa, on each hind leg. The scopae on Anthophora species is quite dense, making their hind legs noticeably hairy.



Anthophora are very fast flyers and are able to hover before landing on a flower.


They typically have very long tongues allowing them to obtain nectar from, and in the process pollinate, deep, tubular flowers. Anthophora species are generalists, however, and will visit a wide variety of flowers for pollen and nectar.


Anthophora females are able to buzz-pollinate the flowers of certain plants. The female grasps the flower while rapidly vibrating her flight muscles to release a burst of pollen from deep pores in the anthers.


Size: Small to medium sized, robust bee, 1/4 to 1 inch in length.



More than 400 species are found globally, in temperate and tropical regions. The greatest diversity and abundance of North American species is found in the western United States.

Number of species in North America

Slightly more than fifty species in the United States, with roughly six of these species extending into Canada.


Emergence Time
Early spring to summer, depending on species


Nesting Habit
Ground nesting


Pollinated Garden Crops Include



Additional Flowers Visited in Natural Areas

Parkinsonia (paloverde, Jerusalem thorn)
Prosopis (mesquite)
Psorothamnus (dalea, smoketree)

Visited Plants

Agastache / Giant Hyssop

Amelanchier / Serviceberry

Amorpha / False Indigo

Ceanothus / Wild Lilac

Cercis / Redbud

Chrysothamnus / Rabbitbush

Cleome / Spiderflower

Dalea / Prairie Clover

Eriogonum / Buckwheat

Erigeron / Fleabane

Eschscholzia / California Poppy

Eutrochium / Joe-Pye Weed

Geranium / Geranium

Grindelia / Gumweed

Helianthus / Sunflower

Holodiscus / Oceanspray

Lupinus / Lupine

Monarda / Beebalm

Nepeta / Catmint

Penstemon / Beardtongue

Phacelia / Scorpionweed

Prunus / Plum

Ratibia / Prairie Coneflower

Ribes / Currant

Rhododendron / Rhododendron

Rosa / Rose

Rudbeckia / Coneflower

Salix / Willow

Silphium / Rosinweed

Sphaeralcea / Globe Mallow

Solidago / Goldenrod

Symphyotrichum / Aster

Vaccinium / Blueberry

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