Wool Carder Bee – Anthidium manicatum

Anthidium manicatum (Linnaeus, 1758)

Size 8-15 mm.

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.

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.

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