Leafcutter Bee cutting out a piece of petal
Leafcutter Bees, Mason Bees & Allies (Megachilidae Family)
Female bees in this group are easy to spot in the field because they have a pollen brush (abdominal scopa) on the underside of their abdomens, making them very effective pollinators. You will often see them scoot backwards around and into flowers as they collect pollen!
Leafcutter Bees have long tongues and cut out pieces of leaves and petals with their mandibles to use in their nest construction. They are important pollinators of many native wildflowers. In our gardens, they are found frequenting numerous species of flowers: Blue Sage, Blue Vervain, Fleabane Daisy, Englemann Daisy, Golden Aster, Hairy Beardtongue, Lemon Mint, Oregano, Ox-Eye Sunflower, Prairie Aster, Purple Coneflower, Shasta Daisy, Smooth Penstemon, and Yarrow.
Mason Bees use mud for their nest construction and build their nests in holes of wood or hollow twigs.
One group of Mason Bees are the Orchard Bees. As the name implies, they are excellent pollinators of many fruit trees such as apples, plums, pears, almonds, and peaches. Preferred flowers in our gardens include Bigflower Cinquefoil, Blanketflower, Chives, Lewis Flax, and Penstemon.