Leaf-cutter Bee

Megachile centuncularis

About

The Leaf-cutter Bee Megachile centuncularis is one of a number of small, solitary leaf-cutter bees. Leaf-cutter Bees nest in holes in plant stems, dead wood, cliffs or old walls, and can be seen in gardens. They famously cut discs out of leaves (they particularly like roses), gluing them together with saliva in order to build the 'cells' in which their larvae live. The larvae hatch and develop, pupating in autumn and hibernating over winter. The Leaf-cutter Bee is on the wing from April to August, and feeds solely on pollen and nectar.

How to identify

The Leaf-cutter Bee looks like a Honey Bee but the underside of its abdomen is orange. It is best recognised by its habit of carrying pieces of leaf back to its nest; semi-circular holes in the leaves of garden plants also denote its presence. There are various species of leaf-cutter bee in Britain, which are very difficult to tell apart.

Where to find it

Widespread, although less common in the north.

Habitats

When to find it

  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August

How can people help

Solitary bees and wasps are important pollinators for all kinds of plants, including those which we rely on like fruit trees. The Wildlife Trusts recognise the importance of healthy habitats to support all kinds of species throughout the food chain, so look after many nature reserves for the benefit of wildlife. You can help too: encourage bees and wasps into your garden by providing nectar-rich flower borders and fruit trees. To find out more about gardening for wildlife, visit our Wild About Gardens website: a joint initiative with the RHS, there's plenty of facts and tips to get you started.

Species information

Common name
Leaf-cutter Bee
Latin name
Megachile centuncularis
Category
Invertebrates
Bees and wasps
Statistics
Length: 1.3cm
Conservation status
Common.