Leafcutter bees

Family Megachilidae
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What do leafcutter bees look like?

leafcutter bee outside ajo az home

Similar in size to honey bees, leafcutter bees are moderately-sized bees that range in size from 5 mm to 24 mm.  They are black in coloring but may appear to have yellow or gold abdomens when they are carrying pollen. 

Life cycle of the leafcutter bee

Complete Metamorphosis

Leafcutters are solitary bees where the female takes care of all the work unlike the behavior of colony bees that are assigned a role per caste.  The female lays 35-40 eggs at a time inside nests created from leaves.  They are filled with nectar and pollen for the larva to feed once hatched.  Pupation occurs over the winter with the adults beginning to emerge in spring and living up to two months.

Are leafcutter bees dangerous?

Bee stings can produce a variety of reactions ranging from temporary pain and discomfort to severe allergic reaction. 

Where do leafcutter bees nest?

Leafcutter bees like to "cavity nest". That means they prefer to establish their nests in ready-made cavities. They also create nests in soft rotting wood that can be excavated. 

Helpful hints about leafcutter bees

To discourage leafcutter bee activity, you should:

  • Cover plants with loose netting when leafcutter bees are found to be active
  • Remove host plants
  • Place white glue on tips of recently pruned roses

Interesting facts about  leafcutter bees

Velvet ants and certain blister beetles are among the list of predators of the leafcutter bee. 

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