Nature on our doorsteps: Leaf-cutter bees
Leaf-cutter bees store their pollen under their abdomen, not on their legs like honeybees and bumblebees

Nature on our doorsteps: Leaf-cutter bees

Solitary bees do not live in communal hives where individuals work together to raise the next generation.

Instead, they live alone, making a nest for their offspring only, where these develop by themselves.

One group of solitary bees is the Megachile group, the Leaf-cutter bees.

These have strong jaws which they use to cut off semi-circular pieces from leaves of particular plants.

The female uses these leaf discs to line her narrow tunnel-shaped nest located in a hollow plant stem, or in a little hole in the ground or a crack in a wall.

She makes a separate little cell for each of her eggs, placing an egg and a lump of pollen in each unit.

The activity of a Leaf-cutter bee can be seen on the leaves of this rose bush

After sealing them up, she flies away.

On hatching, the larva feeds on the pollen in its own cell until it is time to spin a cocoon and develop into a new adult.

Unlike honeybees and bumblebees, Leaf-cutter females store their pollen underneath their abdomen, not on their legs.

They therefore tend to tilt their pollen-laden abdomen upwards, to avoid bumping off flower parts and losing their stored pollen.

While many people may not notice this little insect as she busily gathers pollen for her nests, the effects of her leaf-cutting activity on the leaves of a rose bush might be more familiar.

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