Leafcutter Bee: The Overview

A leaf-cutter bee flying while carrying a piece of a leaf. Posted by Dino Martins

Any name with cutter in it seems frightening, but I am here to redeem these bees of such a stigma by bringing understanding through education.

Leaf-cutter bees are another native species of bees found in most parts of North America.  They are the size of a honeybee, but are darker in color with light bands across the abdomen.

The scientific name for this species is Megachilidae, and their name says it all, they do cut leaves for purpose. They get their name from the way they use pieces of leaves to form egg cells which they then store in long, hollow cavities. 

This species is another solitary breed, like the mason bee. However, unlike mason bees, leaf-cutter bees will do their own excavating in rotting wood, holes in thick stemmed plants, and in any conveniently located crevice.

They too, like mason bees, are very good pollinators compared to the honey bee. One leaf-cutter bee can pollinate what 20 honey bees can pollinate.  Leaf-cutter bees do not have pollen carrying baskets on their hind legs, but they do carry lots of pollen via static cling created by the hairs on their abdomen. The way they visit flowers is much like the mason bees, diving into the pollen as they fly from flower to flower.  This techniques sets them apart from honeybees and makes them very effective pollinators.

Finally, leaf-cutter bees do not make honey, but they cultivate quite the production of food sources through their fierce pollinating efforts, and it would be foolish not to recognize this talent useful to us as humans.  What I mean to say is that we can host these bees in our own yards, and I will provide information how at the end of the week, along with how to host mason bees.

So our adventure begins, into the lives of yet another fascinating species of bees. Please join me again tomorrow to learn more about this uniques bee species.

Thanks for joining the movement!