October 11, 2016

Leafcutter Bees

Leafcutter Bee or Leaf Cutting Bees are the name for bees that use pieces of leaves or flower petals to construct their nests. Leafcutter bees are found throughout the world, with about 140 species occuring in the United States and Canada and 9 species in the UK.

Leafcutter bees are dark brown/black bees with white or silvery hairs and the top of the abdomen may have fine bands of white hairs. The underside of the female’s abdomen has a dense brush of hairs (scopula) that is used for carrying pollen. Males are usually smaller and in many species they have hairier faces than females. The bees range in size from small to moderately large, usually 1 to 2 cm (0.4 to 0.8 in) long.

A few species of leafcutter bees are communal, that is, several females share a common nest entrance but construct nest cells and tend their own brood separately. However most species are solitary and each female constructs her own nest independently with some species forming dense aggregations of individual nests.

The leafcutter bee is a solitary bee which along with mason bees and carder bees belongs to the family Megachilidae.