Pollinator Profile #1: Leafcutter bee (Megachile sp.)
Theme Song: If You Leaf Me Now
Pet peeve: shoddy construction
Nickname: Cheeto Tummy
My friends say I’m: A perfectionist.
Leafcutter bees (Megachile sp.) are solitary cavity-nesting bees who construct and provision their nests without the support of a colony or hive. If you’ve ever seen rose or redbud leaves that look like someone has used a hole-punch on them—you’ve probably been looking at the work of a leafcutter bee! These leaf parts will be used to line the insides of the nursery chamber, which is located inside a ready-made cavity such as a hollow plant stem. Each ‘room’ will be provisioned with a ball of ‘bee bread’, a mixture of nectar, pollen and saliva. An egg is laid on top of the bee bread and the chamber is sealed—basically forming a little ‘Bee burrito’!
In addition to being solicitous moms, Leafcutter bees are exceptionally efficient pollinators, as they carry pollen on their entire abdomen rather than just on their legs. Referred to as a ‘pollen brush’, this feature is a great way to help the observer identify this pollinator friend.
Author: Lisa Schneider
Photo credit: Solent
Snetsinger Butterfly Garden Knowledge Series