Wool Carder Bee

Anthidium manicatum

Wool Carder Bee Anthidium manicatum

This has to be one of my very favourite solitary bees with its bright yellow markings, although it can have quite the temper with other bees.

Wool Carder Bee Anthidium manicatum

Easily recognised solitary bee by the bright yellow spots on either side of the abdomen. It also has distinctive yellow legs and face. The male is much larger than the female, which is unusual amongst bees. Size 8 to 15mm.

Wool Carder Bee Anthidium manicatum

The male holds territory around a clump of flowers expelling all apart from the female carder bees which it will mate with. They are so aggressive they are known to kill bumblebees much larger than themselves and honey bees by crushing them with three sharp prongs on their abdomen. The female cuts and combs the fibres from hairy plants with her large jaws and gathers them into a ball under her body in readiness to take back to her nest, which is usually constructed within a pre-existing cavity or a hollow stem. The ‘carded’ material is then used to line the nest. Good pollinators.

Wool Carder Bee Anthidium manicatum

Wool Carder Bee Anthidium manicatum

Seen May to August, and found in many habitats, including gardens. Widespread across Europe.

Wool Carder Bee Anthidium manicatum


July 2006, rear garden, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2006.

Common Leaf-cutter Bee

Megachile centuncularis

I always enjoy these bees in my garden, and I know when they have been around for they leave behind delicately carved holes in my leaves, particularly roses. A sparsely haired black bodied bee, the female has an underbelly of dense, brushy orangish hairs. Length 10 to 12mm.

They nest in a variety of cavities, natural and man-made. The females cut out semicircular pieces from leaves with their large sharp mandibles and make sausage-shaped tubes in which they lay a single egg and place some pollen. When the eggs are hatched, the larvae will grow and be tended until ready for pupation, feeding on nectar and pollen. The adults are good pollinators.

Found in many habitats, including gardens. A widespread species in Britain, although it is more frequently recorded from the south.

Photographs taken July 2011 and June 2016, rear garden, Staffordshire.