Amazing Pollinators – Leaf Cutter Bees
Facts About Leaf Cutter Bees
Leaf Cutter bees are native to Indiana. They are solitary bees, which means they do not form colonies.
The female solitary bee does it all – she builds her own nest, collects her own pollen and lays her own eggs.
They are members of the Megachilidae family which includes Mason bees. These gentle pollinators either cannot or simply do not sting. Nicknamed the “tickle bee” those that do sting don’t produce much of a reaction at all.
Leaf Cutter bees are unbelievable pollinators. Research has shown that 150 leaf cutter bees working in a greenhouse can do the same amount of pollination as 3000 honey bees! That is what makes them an incredibly important local native species.
Leaf Cutter bees do not bore holes into wood. Rather, they seek holes of a specific size in nature to use as their nesting sites.
Leaf Cutter bees will cut a small moon shaped piece of leaf to use to build their individual nest cells. Their work does no real damage to the plants whose leaves they choose to use. So, when you see these moon shaped holes begin to appear in your yard, don’t be alarmed, it’s a great sign for your garden!
When to Place Leaf Cutter Bee House
Leaf cutter bees become active in late spring or early summer when temperatures exceed 70 degrees. Locally, you can install your new bee house any time in late Spring.
Where to Place Leaf Cutter Bee House
Place your bee house in an area where you have flowers in bloom at the time of year when the bees become active. Place your bee house as close as possible to (but within 300 feet of) flowers and flowering trees as a source of food. You’ll want to install your bee house with the opening facing south so that the bees catch the early morning sunshine. Install your bee house at a height that is convenient for you. If you’re as curious as I am, you’re going to want to open up the side doors and see what is happening inside on a regular basis!
Leaf Cutter Bee Life Cycle
After the female Leaf Cutter bee finds a suitable site for nesting, she’ll quickly go to work gathering pollen and leaves to make her individual nest cells. She’ll create a small cell, about 1/2” in size using leaves to line the cell. She’ll place a single egg in each cell along with a good amount of pollen and then cap the cell with another leaf. The adult female leaf cutter bee can live a few months and will lay 35-40 eggs during this time.
Caring for Leaf Cutter Bees
These bees are native and as such they are fully capable of caring for themselves and as long as you place your bee house in a safe location, there is no further action required from you except to replace your bee house cartridge every 2 years.
However, The Wood Frog leaf cutter bee houses are designed to allow you to clean them after every season. Cleaning them each year with a weak bleach solution will ensure that the bee house will remain a healthy place for your bees and you can reuse the bee house for many years.
If you do choose to clean your bee house each year then there are some simple steps to take to safeguard your bees and cocoons during winter. Our Bee Houses come complete with a full set of care instructions and we’re here as a resource as well and you can contact us at any time with questions about how to care for your new bees.