Erica Siegel of Queensland captured these stunning photos of a leafcutter bee clipping out sections of leaf for building her nest:
Above: Notice the strong jaws of this bee that she uses to cut her leaf pieces.
Above: As the piece of leaf is cut, the leafcutter bee curls it under her body, holding it with her legs. These bees favour soft leaves such as those of the rose bush or the buddleja. The cut marks left by these bees are always a uniform circle or oval shape.
Above: One the final snip is made, the leafcutter bee, clutching her leaf piece, takes flight back to her nest.
Corinne Jordan-Ivers sent Aussie Bee some observations of two leafcutter nests in 2011. One was 9 cm long and another (shown below) was 13 cm long.
Above: Corinne Jordan-Iver's photograph of one of the nests built by leafcutter bees in her carport. They build these nests in small narrow cavities. Corinne said one was in a metal bench and another was in the back of a director's chair.
Corinne said, 'Seems like the bee makes a little nest, lays an egg, fills it with food, seals it, then repeats the process 4 or 5 times, sealing each compartment as she goes, So the end result is a nest with about 5 to 6 compartments each containing food and a bee larva. It's quiet a construction.'
'There are so many leaves in each segment she must have at least 10 to 15 leaves layered on top of each other. Amazing what nature comes up with. Each leaf is about 2 cms by 1 cm with some half size ones in between. I had no idea the construction was going to be so major. Where do they get the energy!'
© 1997-2011 Australian Native Bee Research Centre
PO Box 74, North Richmond NSW 2754, Australia