Posts Tagged: Megachile
Leafcutter bees (Megachile spp.), so named because they cut leaves and petals to line their nests, are smaller than the honey bees but move faster. These native bees are easily recognizable by the black-white bands on their abdomen.
Catching them in flight requires a lot of patience.
We watched one leafcutter bee dart from catmint flower to catmint flower (Nepeta). It is 2 p.m. One movement of the camera and off it goes. One step toward it and it takes flight. A shadow over it and it vanishes.
This one (below) managed to maneuver around carder bees, honey bees, carpenter bees, assorted butterflies, a curious cat determined to sample the catmint, and a persistent spider that cunningly wove its web right between two stems.
Finally, it overcame all the obstacles for its reward: a long sip of nectar.
Caught in Flight
Sip of Nectar
The cold, blustery storm that swept over Northern California over the last two weeks wiped out the rock purslane (Calandrinia grandiflora) and with it the "meeting place" of assorted insects: honey bees, leafcutter bees, ladybugs, bumble bees, potter wasps, et al.
But last August we spotted a male leafcutting bee, Megachile sp., on the rock purslane. Nearby, a redbud tree showed evidence of a "been there-done that" female leafcutter. She had trimmed a little off the edge of the leaf for her solitary ground nest. Leafcutter bees, as their name implies, cut leaves for their nests.
That's a good sign.
It is so important to provide bee friendly gardens for our pollinators, such as honey bees, bumble bees and leafcutter bees. Their survival, in many ways, depends on us.
To encourage them, plant bee friendly gardens, provide nesting sites and refrain from using pesticides.
Speaking of native bees, leafcutting bees are among those featured on the soon-to-be-mailed calendar sponsored by the non-profit Xerces Society and the Great Sunflower Project and assembled by Bay Area native bee enthusiast Celeste Ets-Hokin, with photographs by entomologist-insect photographer Rollin Coville, also of the Bay Area. The deadline to order the native bee calendar closed Nov. 30 (however, a few--a very few--may still be available from the sponsors).
Meanwhile, those of who us treasured the native bees in our gardens last spring and summer will treasure this calendar all year around.
This is a bee that cuts it.