Currently viewing the category: "Mason Bees and Leafcutter Bees"

Location: Hawthorne, California
December 10, 2010 6:27 pm
Just wondering if I have this bee correctly identified. If you can tell me what the other two guys are on the bloom in one of the photos, I’d be most appreciative.
Signature: Thanks, Anna

Leaf Cutting Bee

Hi Anna,
There is a good chance that your bee is a Leaf Cutting Bee in the genus
Megachile.  This is a genus that has been split into numerous subgenera, as evidences by the taxonomy on bugGuide.

Ed. Note: May 21, 2011
Now is one of those times that being more aware of insect anatomy and not making identifications based on superficial visual identifications would come in handy.  We no longer believe this is a Leaf Cutter Bee.  We don’t believe any Leaf Cutter Bees gather pollen on their legs.  It looks like this native Bee is gathering pollen on its legs, or perhaps it just has long yellow hairs on its legs.  We wish someone would write in and give us a clear cut explanation of what species of Bee this is.  I am going to include more native Bees in my Theodore Payne Foundation talk on Saturday, 28 May, 2011 at 1:00 PM.

Probably Plant Bugs with Leaf Cutting Bee

We believe the tiny Hemipterans in your photo are probably Plant Bugs in the family Miridae, but your photo isn’t detailed enough to provide any tangible evidence toward that speculation.  According to Bugguide, Plant Bugs in the family Miridae are usually “adults 2-15 mm.

Quite Possibly a Plant Bug

Update from Anna:  August 20, 2011
Hi Daniel,
I finally got an answer from Steve Thoenes:
“I asked my friend Steve Buchmann and he wrote  the top one (on pink flower) is an Anthophora female, not sure of the  species.”
Hope this is of some help,

Fly mimics a Bumble Bee and is inverted!
Location:  Fairfield, Maine USA
August 23, 2010 12:35 pm
Dear bugman,
I thought this was a bumble bee at first, but then it flew near me and it flew like a hummingbird. Another very distinctive trait that does not show in my pictures, was that its abdomen was curling upward (in profile) toward the sky, instead of the typical downward curl profile I see most bees doing. Sorry it’s really hard to describe and the thing was so active I lost track of it almost immediately. Anyway, I am very curious to know what this was, so here are the only pictures I could get. Not bad, but sort of simpilar viewpoints…
Thank you,
James R

Leafcutter Bee

Hi James,
This is one of the Leaf-Cutting Bee in the genus
Megachile, a large and complicated genus that would require an expert to identify the species.  According to BugGuide:  “Most nest in pre-existent holes in wood. Female typically cuts neat, more-or-less round pieces out of leaves to serve as separators between cells of nest.

Hi Daniel,
Thank you so much for the rapid identification!
It’s always exciting to learn a bit about an insect I’ve never seen or heard of before.
Best wishes,

Black insect with thin yellow stripes and ?stinging and/or biting capabilities
Location:  Palo Alto, CA
August 22, 2010 4:41 pm
Dear What’s That Bug,
I had a most unfortunate experience last night and this morning, and I was wondering if you could help me identify *what* it was. A few times during the night I awoke to a buzzing sound in my ear, though I couldn’t find the source. Shortly after I woke up, I felt a sharp pain on my wrist, then a bit later a few more on my back. These became 3 mm tall welts with a sunken poke mark in the middle.
Eventually, I found the source: a black insect with four thin yellow stripes on the last segment. It has something that looks like a short and thin stinger at the end and a pair of pinchers on the head (please excuse my terminology — I have some botanical training, but not entomological!). It also has narrow wings that it usually keeps folded on its body such that it’s hard to see them. Oh, but the insect does fly! There might even be a second, smaller pair of wings under the first, but it’s hard for me to see.
Could you please tell me what this is? I’ve seen these around before, but had never been assaulted by one!
Much thanks,
Bitten and/or stung

Leaf Cutting Bee

Dear Bitten and/or stung,
We suspect you were probably stung, though we are not certain if the sting of a Leaf Cutting Bee in the genus
Megachile brings certain death as it does in a Honey Bee worker.  The jaws of a Leaf Cutting Bee are quite pronounced, and perhaps the bite may have caused the reaction you describe.   According to BugGuide:  “Most nest in pre-existent holes in wood. Female typically cuts neat, more-or-less round pieces out of leaves to serve as separators between cells of nest”  and the young feed on a variety of pollens.  Sadly, we fished a drowning Leaf Cutting Bee from our birdbath yesterday and it died.  According to Charles Hogue in Insects of the Los Angeles Basin:  “”Neatly cut semicircular notches in the leaf edges of one’s rose bushes indicate the presence of these solitary bees in the neighborhood.”

Leaf Cutting Bee

I’m Baffled
Hi I love this site for all my buggy needs I found today in my garden under the soil these tightly wrapped leafs with a yellow stuff inside. When I squished one it was really sick. There were several of them in a location. Any Idea as to what it is? I never took and pictures but I did find one on the web that someone took but they never knew what it was too Please help me identify this

Hi Barb,
We are guessing that because you sent us this photo, you consider posting to our site as an authorized use. We have cropped out the copyright plantfreak78, 2008 and unauthorized use prohibited information as well as the mention of Dave’s Garden website that we occasionally cite on our site because of size constraints. You have uncovered the nest of a native Leafcutter Bee. They cut leaves and roll them and fill them with pollen before laying eggs. Leafcutter Bees are important native pollinators, but their solitary behavior does not make them candidates for exploitation like the domestic Honey Bee.

i found this is looks like a boxing bee
it was pretty sweet. but weirrrrrrrrrrrd. it has spider legs, a bee body, an ants mouth (opens sideways) and claws in the front it used to try to shoo me away. i live in denver, and i found it in my yard. thanks!!!

Hi Jessica,
We are requesting Eric Eaton’s assistance with your unusual Bee.

Update: (05/28/2008)
Hi, Daniel: Sure, the bee is a male leafcutter bee in the genus Megachile. Some species have the front legs modified with feathery hairs like this, though I have no idea why. Something having to do with courtship and mating, no doubt.

Every once in awhile, the What’s That Bug? editorial staff needs to dust off the camera to get a photo just to prove we can. While gardening today, we were observing a pretty little bee we have seen in the summer in the past, but are unsure as to its identity. It flies very rapidly, and in flight, it looks pale blue. It has a striped abdomen and the ventral surface is bright yellow. There are not noticeable pollen sacs and we are wondering if the bee collects pollen on the hairs of the abdomen. If flies very quickly and erratically, and is difficult to capture photographically. After about a half an hour, our efforts were rewarded. Now we hope Eric Eaton can tell us what this beauty is.

Within minutes, Eric wrote back: “Daniel, Yes, it is a female leafcutter bee, genus Megachile, and yes, she does collect pollen in a dense brush of hairs on the underside of her abdomen. Leafcutter bees nest in pre-existing tunnels in wood (some species do make burrows in the ground). They fashion individual, barrel-shaped cells from plant cuttings. A leafcutter can shear a perfectly oval (or round) piece from a leaf in under 30 seconds! The round pieces cap the finished cell. Inside each cell she packs a ball of pollen and nectar for a single offspring. She lays an egg in the finished cell, caps it, then begins a new cell stacked atop the first, repeating this for the length of the tunnel. These are amazing insects, and vital pollinators of both wild and cultivated plants. Eric”