Leafcutter Bees


leafcutter beeFor those of you who are vegetable growers, we offer another solitary bee, megachile rotundata, or leafcutter. It is closely related to the mason bee and flies in July and August making it ideal as a summer pollinator. The leafcutter bee is very much like a mason bee but smaller and brown.  Being shy and remarkably fast, it is hard to spot. Chances are you will not see them much because they dart about rapidly and hide in their nesting hole if you stand too close. Unlike the mason bee which uses mud, the leafcutter bee uses soft leaves to build its nest. Leafcutter bees do not damage a plant when they snip out small circles from leaves. The effect is only cosmetic.

Gentle and Safe

Leafcutter bees are solitary bees unlike other bees which live in colonies with a queen. Thus, leafcutter bees are non-aggressive and shyly avoid contact. They are safe to be around and can be placed in any yard or garden, even those with kids and pets. Even those with allergies to bee stings need not worry about leafcutter bees.

Nesting

In nature, they nest in existing holes and do not create new holes. The female leafcutter bee cleverly wraps each egg in small pieces of soft leaves. She constructs these "tiny green burritos" and stacks them end to end in the nesting hole. It's an amazing and fascinating process to watch! When nesting blocks are provided, this helps leafcutter bees spend their time pollinating rather than looking for a home.

What Type of Plants do Leafcutter Bees Pollinate?

Leafcutter bees are not picky when it comes to pollination but they will definitely visit and pollinate summer vegetables including tomatoes, zucchini, and cucumbers as well as a variety of summer flowers.  As a gardener, you will reap the benefits of their pollination efforts as you harvest your garden.

What about Summer Sun and Heat?

Leafcutter bees love the heat! It cannot get too hot for them. We advise people to place the bee kit in the sunniest place in their yard. These bees are acclimated to this area and its climate.