Leaf Cutter Bee

“Leaf Cutter Bee”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 

 

For the past three years, I have noticed circles being cut out of my Iceberg rose’s leaves.  A little research showed that this was being done by leaf cutter bees.  They cut out circles from leaves to build their nests.  The are supposed to make there nests in rose canes, trees, or wood on houses, anything they can hollow out. 

Just last week, I noticed again that my Iceberg roses, and only my Iceberg roses, had circles cut out.  However, I have never seen any bees hanging around them.  I was very frustrated because the leaves just look terrible.   Then, yesterday, while cleaning out the holly ferns, I noticed something out of the corner of my eye.  It was a bee, about the size of a honeybee, flying by with a piece of green.  But, instead of flying to a plant, tree, or house siding, it was going into the mouth of my egret statue.  You will have to look closely at the mouth to see the blur of bee and green.

 

Leaf Bee II(redu)

 

A better picture of a leaf cutter bee hauling a piece of a leaf was posted last year on Robin’s Nesting Place Blog.  Check it out here.  Her picture is amazing. 

Anyway, here is what my rosebush’s leaves look like after a visit from little Miss Leafcutter.

 

Rose Leaf I (redu)

 

Rose Leaf II (redu)

 

It is amazing what perfect, little circles are cut out by this bee.  If you are finding the same thing on your leaves, you might want to check out this site.  I was undecided what to do about this situation until I visited this Colorado Extension site.  I was afraid I was going to have a bee hive right outside my front door, but I found these are solitary insects, nonagressive, and important native plant pollinators.  So, this year, it will be able to set up house in my egret, but come winter, I will be sealing up the mouth, and mother leafcutter bee will have to find a new nesting area.

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17 Comments

  1. Robin said,

    June 12, 2009 at 9:20 pm

    Jan, aren’t they interesting little creatures? Wow, yours had been one busy little bee! It has certainly done a number on your rose leaves.

    • Jan said,

      June 13, 2009 at 5:39 am

      Yes, Robin, it certainly has. Last year it did the same thing to a redbud tree. It seems to like the thinner leaves. They are amazing little bees.

  2. donna said,

    June 13, 2009 at 4:42 am

    I’ve never seen such perfect circles in the leaf of any plant and have never heard of the leaf cutter bee. What a kind-hearted gardener you are to allow the mother bee to use your statue for a nesting area.

    • Jan said,

      June 13, 2009 at 5:42 am

      Donna, when I first saw these circles a few years back, I couldn’t imagine what had done this. Was this a spin off from crop circles? Finally, I found out what they were, but it wasn’t until I saw Robin’s photo that I actually understood what they did with the leaves. I did think of sealing up the mouth of the egret now, but then I’d feel bad that the little bees didn’t make it, and we need all the bees we can get now.

  3. Jake said,

    June 13, 2009 at 8:39 am

    They make better circles then I can draw on paper. I have never heard of these, but thanks for the heads up.

    Jake

    • Jan said,

      June 13, 2009 at 7:15 pm

      Jake, I had never heard of these either until I started seeing the holes about three years ago and looked up what could be doing this. I couldn’t imagine what made them since the holes were so perfect. I was wondering if someone was wandering the neighborhood with a hole punch.

  4. Randy said,

    June 13, 2009 at 10:17 am

    I’ve seen that before, I didn’t know it was a bee doing it. That’s cool! I learned something today!

    • Jan said,

      June 13, 2009 at 7:16 pm

      Randy, I thought this was pretty neat, even though they are ruining the rose leaves. They don’t do this all summer, so as the new leaves come out, they should be okay.

  5. Eleanor said,

    June 24, 2009 at 10:52 am

    Hi! I have had time off this summer, due to bunion surgery. I have watched two wonderful little bees at work in a large soil filled flower pot on my deck. They carry small pieces of leaves underneath them ; into pencil size holes in the soil. One day one of them lit on my arm, and it appeared to have a little mustache. I am so enjoying watching them. I was planning to put petunias in this pot,but have changed my mind since I noticed the bees. They seem very innocent and I would do nothing to harm them.

    • Jan said,

      June 24, 2009 at 3:12 pm

      It seems that more and more people are seeing these bees, Eleanor. I just think they are so clever, and while I am not real happy over the condition of my rose leaves, I think it is kind of neat to have these little guys around.

  6. Faye said,

    June 28, 2009 at 3:59 am

    So pleased to have found this site. I am in the UK (just outside of London) and was sitting in my garden this morning when I saw a bee going backwards and forwards from my roses to a pot of summer bedding plants…I was fascinated watching her carrying leaf after leaf so decided to check it out on the internet which is when I found this site. Thanks for all the info….I had never heard of Bees doing this before…just goes to show that I am never too old to learn.

    • Jan said,

      June 28, 2009 at 5:50 am

      Faye, thanks for stopping by. I, too, find these little bees fascinating. Makes you wonder how they “thought up” the idea to use leaves to make a nest in the first place.

      • Faye said,

        June 28, 2009 at 8:31 am

        Thanks for reply Jan. They certainly are fascinating little creatures to watch, just wish I could see into the flower pot to see her busy creating her nest. Only thing that worries me now is the fact that I water the pot very frequently in this hot spell of weather we are having over here in the UK….I hope I won’t do her hard work any damage !

  7. kathy said,

    June 29, 2009 at 1:27 am

    i have leaf cutter bees in a plastic plant holder hanging on the side of my shed i sit for ages watching them comming and going they have been there for a few years now but this year they are getting there leaves from somewhere else last few years they were getting them from my fushias

    • Jan said,

      June 29, 2009 at 5:13 pm

      Kathy, it is amazing how many people are reporting in about the leaf cutter bees in their garden. I know I didn’t have any up until about three years ago when I noticed the circles cut out of my rose leaves and looked up what could be causing that, and this is the first time I have actually seen them. These little guys must be all over.

  8. Andrew said,

    July 7, 2009 at 9:45 pm

    Leafcutter bees are so fascinating. That was an excellent presentation.

    • Jan said,

      July 8, 2009 at 5:34 am

      Thanks, Andrew, for the positive feedback.


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