Leafcutter bee busy with the insect house

Leafcutter bees

I’ve discovered a new pleasure this summer: sitting in my garden with a cold drink, watching leafcutter bees.

I’d heard of leafcutter bees before this year, but never actually seen one. Now, thanks to our new insect home, I can watch them work.

Leafcutter bee busy with the insect house
Leafcutter bee busy with the insect house

Leafcutter bees are solitary bees that use small holes to lay their eggs in. They use circles of leaf to create chambers for their larvae to develop in, and stock these chambers up with a supply of pollen before sealing them up. It looks like a lot of work, but is fascinating to watch.

I was surprised how quickly they can cut a neat circle in a leaf. Some of our plants look like they’ve been visited by the very hungry caterpillar. These holes make them unpopular with gardeners who aim for perfection, but I think it adds interest.

Leaves used by leafcutter bees
Leaves used by leafcutter bees

It’s satisfying that the insect house we installed earlier this year is giving them somewhere to nest. I’m looking forward to watching the new bees emerge next year, and make even more holes in our leaves. We might have to install some more insect houses for them!

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