Leafcutter Bees

by Sandy Swegel

There’s a native bee (especially in the Western US) that you’ll rarely recognize flying around, but almost everyone can tell when the bee has been in their garden. Leaves, especially of roses, have perfect little half-moons cut on the edges. The cuts are better circles than most of us can draw. In most years there aren’t overwhelming numbers of cutter bees so they don’t really threaten the plants.

 

Leafcutter bees don’t eat the leaves. They take them to make nests for their babies. Unlike honey bees which live in hives, leaf cutters are solitary bees, and the leaves are used to make long tubular cigar-looking nests. Each bee egg gets its own little room, complete with a gob of saliva, some pollen and some nectar for when the larvae grow in the Spring.

Some people think leafcutter bees are pests and want to exterminate them. Others want to attract them to their gardens because they are excellent pollinators. I’m on the side of letting them happily live in my rose garden and cut their perfect little half moons. They are gentle bees and rarely sting. Cute and good for pollination.

 

Photo Credit and Info:
http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/insect/05576.html
http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/gardens-gardening/your-garden/help-for-the-home-gardener/advice-tips-resources/pests-and-problems/insects/bees/leaf-cutter-bees.aspx
http://swampthings.blogspot.com/2012/05/leaf-cutter-bee-nest.html
http://rachel-the-gardener.blogspot.com/2011/08/leaf-cutter-bees.html

2 replies
  1. Cynthia Coleman
    Cynthia Coleman says:

    We have found a leafcutter bee cocoon on the back patio, in the crack cover with a carpet. After several days of research, discovered they are good to have around. Our concern is, the patio gets so hot in the summer the little ones will not survive. Can the cocoon be move? Where is a good spot to move it? Better still, who can we call to come pick it up, or maybe you can direct us to someone who can. Hope to hear from you soon. Have a Blessed day

    Reply

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