Leaf-Cutter Bees

Leaf-Cutter Bees (Genus Megachile)

Size: Medium to Large (8.5-15 mm)     {Size Comparison – the average honeybee is 13 mm}

Color: Black bees with white hairs covering the thorax and the bottom of the abdomen; many species have large heads with massive jaws

Type of Flight: Very Fast, Fluid-Flight; “Fighter jet” type of flight

Megachile texana with abdominal hair

Megachile texana – Note: Ventral Abdominal Hair

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Best method to identify the Family Megachilidae is that the pollen carrying hairs (scopa) in females are not on the legs as on other bees, but on the underside of the abdomen.

(1) Females have a dense mass of pollen-carrying hairs (scopa) located on the bottom-side of their abdomen; the scopa hair maybe white, yellow, red, orange, brown, or black.

(2) Bees appear to have an upside-down abdomen compared to all other bee families

(3) Commonly possess white, yellow, and/or black banding on the top of the abdomen

Abundance in Georgia: Common in Spring; Uncommon in Summer or Fall

Typically Found in Georgia: May to October

Pollination Value: High (an important pollinator of summer agricultural crops)

(Note: several species are “managed” to serve as the main pollinator of alfalfa and other crops)

Plants Associated with: Flowering plants (Generalist – not specific to any type of plant)

Nesting Habitat: These bees are cavity nesters; Leaf cutter bees nest in hollow reeds or in holes created by wood boring insects. They are called Leaf Cutter bees because they collect leaves and then line their nests and larva cells with them. Some species may live in burrows in the ground.

Classification: Family: Megachilidae       Genus: Megachile

Number of Species in Georgia: 36 species

Number of Species in United States: 136 species

Photos taken by Sam Droege and staff at the USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Laboratory (Used with permission)

–> Click on the photo to enlarge the image

Megachile parallela Face

Megachile parallela Face

Megachile parallela - Side view

Megachile parallela – Side view

Megachile brevis - Side View

Megachile brevis – Side View

Megachile brevis - Face

Megachile brevis – Face

Megachile brevis - Dorsal View

Megachile brevis – Dorsal View

Megachile mucida-Side View

Megachile mucida-Side View

Megachile mucida-Face

Megachile mucida-Face

Megachile mucida-Dorsal View

Megachile mucida-Dorsal View

Megachile mendica