Leafcutter Bee

photo by Ian Marsman CC BY-NC-ND

Leafcutter Bees are a medium-sized bee (.2-1 in) with stout, cigar-shaped bodies. They are black with pale-yellow stripes on their abdomen.

Leafcutter Bees are very good pollinators and are used commercially in Canada to pollinate crops of alfalfa and blueberries. One Alfalfa Leafcutter Bee can do the job of 20 Honey Bees. They also pollinate many wildflowers as well as garden fruits and vegetables.They carry pollen on the hairs on the underside of their abdomen (not their legs) so the abdomen will look yellow when they are carrying a load.

Leafcutter Bees cut circular pieces of leaves (.25-.5 in) and carry them to a hole to construct a nest. Their nests are often in rotting wood, but they can also be found in snail shells or holes in a concrete wall, in the ground, or in a plant stem. The nests contain several cells, each of which contains a lump of pollen and an egg. The larvae overwinter in the nest, chewing their way out as full-grown adults in the spring.

Could it be? Leafcutter Bees are the same size as Honey Bees but darker, with a larger head and eyes and a hairier belly.

Did you know? Leafcutters are solitary bees and do not live in large groups like Bumblebees or Honey Bees.

See Also: Bumblebee, Honey Bee, Mason Bee, Miner Bee, Sweat Bee, Wasp