Leaf-cutter bee (Megachile spp)

There are so many solitary bees in the UK, around 250 different species, but there is one group, the leaf-cutter bees which leave clear signs around the garden when they are nest building. Gardeners at first are concerned to find half moon notches carved from their rose leaves. Sometimes its wisteria or other garden shrubs. Often the gardener thinks their plants are under attack, but they are not. The creatures that cut bee size notches out of leaves are leaf-cutter bees. In the UK we have eight species and some of them will be working in your garden.

These bees are precious pollinators. They don’t collect pollen on their legs like some bees, instead they have a brush under their belly called a Scopa where they pack pollen. They are very messy bees and get covered in pollen so that when they move from flower to flower they take it with them and effect pollination.

The female leaf cutter bee lands on a leaf and she cuts around her body, that’s why the notches are always on the edge of the leaf and are bee size and bee shape. She then takes the piece of leaf or sometimes petal, and uses it to roll tiny little cells for her babies.

When you see leaves with notches cut in the sides it’s a clear sign that these bees are nesting in your garden. Please do not spray your plants. These bees are not pests and have a vital role in our gardens. If you have an insect house leaf-cutter bees may make their nest in the holes. If the cells are capped with a piece of leaf you have leaf-cutter bees and you are very blessed.

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