- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
It's a native bee.
It's a pollinator.
And it's a leafcutter.
This morning we admired this female leafcutter bee, Megachile fidelis, as identified by native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis.
It was foraging on a Mexican sunflower in the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, the half-acre pollinator garden located next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis.
The Mexican sunflower (Tithonia rotundiflora), from the Asteracae or sunflower family, blazed like a fiery torch, its stamens screaming yellow and its petals ignited in a orange-red flame that only Mother Nature can create.
While the Tithonia glowed--no wonder it's a favorite of gardeners--the leafcutter bee kept piling on the pollen.
If you look at the second photo, you'll see "the brush of hairs on the underside of her abdomen where she is packing pollen for the trip back to her nest," as Thorp points out.
Indeed, the bee may be nesting in the haven itself. Thorp provides them with little bee condos, blocks of wood drilled with holes.
Within a few weeks, UC Davis graduate student/teaching assistant Sarah Dalrymple will finish installing art-decorated bee condos crafted in an entomology class linked with the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program.
Build them and they will come.