Leafcutter Bees Megachile sp.

Megachile Latreille, 1802

These are bees which have only been identified to genus level and not species level. There are 7 UK species.

Megachile bees are medium to large sized solitary bees and do not produce honey, but are important and essential pollinators of crops and wild flowers. Females carry the pollen basket attached to the underside of the abdomen. They are non agressive bees unless they feel threatened, and even if stung it is relatively mild compared to other bees.

They make nest chambers for their young by lining them with piecies of leaf cut from plants, notably roses, lilac and Creeping Virginia. They use artifical or natural cavites, some pre-existing and others purposefully excavated. Some nest in the ground, and others up high in old beetle holes in trees or gaps in man-made structures. They will also uilise bee hotels.

Field notes: I have seen these in my garden quite a number of times over the years. I usually see them labour as they carry cut leaves in flight, and then having to pause to rest before carrying on to their destinations. I have also seen there tell-tale semicircular cuts in my rose leaves and Creeping Virginia leaves. Despite using several sources I have yet to identify the above species.