Leaf Cutter Bees

A leaf cutter bee enters its home drilled in a cedar plank. Leaf cutter bees are solitary but don't mind living close to other leaf cutters.

A leaf cutter bee enters its nest drilled in a cedar plank. Leaf cutter bees are solitary but don't mind living close to other leaf cutters. Leaf cutter bees are important pollinators.

 Old cedar planks drilled with rows of small holes lean against Jackie G.’s garage in a Kansas City suburb.  Leaf cutter bees come and go from the holes, where they have built nests using bits of leaves and petals they have cut from nearby plants. 

“I smile when I see the lacey edges,” Jackie says.  “It means leaf cutter bees are in the garden.”

Despite the busy bee activity in the planks, very few of the nearby leaves and petals exhibit cut edges and none seem to be damaged very much.  Mild-mannered leaf cutter bees are important pollinators, which is one reason Jackie, a master gardener, provides the drilled planks.  Drill holes in untreated soft scrap or salvaged wood to make the bee condos. Jackie also volunteers with Monarch Watch, which is dedicated to education about and  conservation and research of the Monarch butterfly and other pollinators. The link is in my blogroll on the right.

   From Pollinator Partnership, link is in my blogroll on the right.

Pollinators need protection NOW

Declines in the health and population of pollinators in North America and globally pose what could be a significant threat to the integrity of biodiversity, to global food webs, and to human health. A number of pollinator species are at risk.

Pollinators are ESSENTIAL TO LIFE

At least 80% of our world’s crop plant species require pollination. Estimates as high as 1 out of every 3rd bite of food comes to us through the work of animal pollinators. Birds, bees, butterflies, and also bats, beetles and even mosquitos are among the myriad creatures which transfer pollen between seed plants.  This function is vital for plant reproduction and food production.

 

One person who makes bee condos or nest blocks, etc., from reclaimed wood is  “Andrew’s Reclaimed.”  He makes Mason bee blocks, leaf cutter bee nest blocks, bat houses, elevated pet feeders, planter boxes and more, all from reclaimed wood.  He found me on twitter.  Somehow he knew I was a bee and butterfly nerd.  Here’s a link to his shop: Andrew’s Reclaimed.  He lives in the Seattle area, but the shipping costs don’t seem that bad.  Even if you aren’t in the market for any of these items, it’s worth checking out his store, because he provides a lot of information.

These lacey edges show that leaf cutter bees have harvested part of the leaves to line their nests.

These lacey edges show that leaf cutter bees have harvested part of the leaves to line their nests.

“Anna’s Bee World” post about Bee engineers. 

Information about the Leaf Cutter Bee. 

More information about Leaf Cutter bees.

Artsy Homes for Leaf Cutter Bees.

Old planks of untreated wood drilled with holes make great homes for leaf cutter bees.

Old planks of untreated wood drilled with holes make great homes for leaf cutter bees.

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6 Comments

Filed under Entomology, Gardening, Insects, Kansas, Kansas City, Life, Natural History, Nature, Personal

6 responses to “Leaf Cutter Bees

  1. Is there a t-shirt that says, “Save the bees!” yet? I’d like one. :)

  2. alwaysjan

    Hey, my friend Tina showed me a condo she bought for Mason bees. I pictured them wearing tiny fezes. (Boy does THAT look odd when plural!) With all of the redevelopment we’ve had recently, we actually have quite a few full-sized condos that are available for the pollinators. :)

  3. Those planks look like art too. Great post.

  4. heidi

    WoW! Okay, so I had noticed a few weeks ago that some of the old bolt holes in the smithy door jam had been sealed up with leaf cuttings..I had also noticed the perfect cut marks on the rose leaves…Hmmmm..Then the coolest little wild bees were all over the thistles, and sunflowers..
    Now I know! I shall get to making more holey homes for them.
    Thanks for the info! Mystery solved!

  5. Excellent article, Catherine, and thank you for the reference!

    Cheers,

    Andrew

  6. Mark

    I have a vial of leafcutterbees that were saved by my grandfather when they were first introduced in the area around the 1930s wonder I wonder if they would have some DNA or research value. they sure look healthier dried up for near a decade than the cutters we are seeing now. any suggestions?

    Thanks for the comment, Mark. If you go to two of the blogs on my blogrolls, Anna’s Bee World and Bug Girl’s Blog, they might be able to help you. Cathy

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