Patchwork Leaf-cutter Bee

Patchwork Leaf-cutter Bee ©Gillian Day

Patchwork leaf-cutter bee

Scientific name: Megachile centuncularis
The appearance of semi-circular holes in the leaves of your garden plants is a sure sign that the patchwork leaf-cutter bee has been at work. It is one of a number of leaf-cutter bee species present in the UK.

Species information

Statistics

Length: 1.3cm

Conservation status

Common.

When to see

April to August

About

The patchwork leaf-cutter bee 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 patchwork leaf-cutter bee is on the wing from April to August, and feeds solely on pollen and nectar.

How to identify

The patchwork leaf-cutter bee looks like a dark 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. There are various species of leaf-cutter bee in the UK that are very difficult to tell apart.

Distribution

Widespread, although less common in the north.

Did you know?

Provide nesting and hibernation sites for leaf-cutter bees in your garden by drilling holes into a piece of dead wood.

How people can help

Solitary bees and wasps, along with many of our other, often-overlooked insects, 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: volunteer for your local Wildlife Trust and you could be involved in everything from coppicing to craft-making, stockwatching to surveying.