- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Day 5 of National Pollinator Week: Meet the leafcutter bee, family Megachilidae.
It's a native pollinator, a solitary bee, and about the size of a honey bee.
Its coloration--the black-and-white banded abdomen--makes it easily recognizable.
As the name suggestions, they (the females) cut circular holes in leaves to line their nests for brood-rearing. Rosarians who enter their roses in competition aren't fond of them because of the "imperfections" in the leaves. A hole in one--or holes in many--aren't going to give them a whole lot of blue ribbons.
But having leafcutter bees in your garden is a joy. They're good pollinators and gentle bees. Leafcutter bees carry pollen on the underside of their abdomen, not on their hind legs like honey bees, do. Agriculturists manage the alfalfa leafcutter bee (Megachile rotundata) for crop pollination.
Leafcutter bees nest in natural cavities, mostly holes in soft wood or in hollow, pithy plant stems. You can also create bee condos or housing for them, drilling specific-sized holes in a block of wood.
We saw this little male Megachile foraging on Verbena. He paused for a few minutes and then took flight. Things to do and places to go...