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.
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