Leaf Cutting, Mason Bees

Leafcutter Bees - also called Mason bees belong to a large family of bees named Megachiledae (large jaws), one of the largest families of indigenous bees, with over 600 recognized species in North America. The bees described on this page are all members of this same family group and are considered to be indigenous to the North Shore and surrounding area unless otherwise noted.


Untitled-2Blue Orchard Bee – (Osmia lignaria) – also called the Mason bee is a type of solitary nesting bee, most active during the late spring and early summer months when the local fruit bearing trees and shrubs are blossoming. The females prefer to nest near to each other, in tunnels bored into wood, and need a close supply of mud to seal up their eggs and the ends of their nesting tubes. These bees are quite abundant across the North Shore, are very energetic and effective pollinators, and often remain active during periods of cool spring weather. These tube nesting bees will quickly take up residence in artificial nesting boxes with 1/4 to 5/16 inch diameter, 6 to 8 inch long tunnels.

A good source of local information about the blue orchard bee is available at – “www.derrysorchardandnursery.ca”

dianthidiumResin Bee – (Dianthidium ulkei )- This bee is a solitary nesting local species that typically uses resins from trees and small stones or other hard materials to create waterproof sheltering cocoons for its eggs. Due to the waterproof nature of it’s cocoons the resin bee can lay it’s eggs in both protected (dry tunnels in the ground or wood) and unprotected spaces (notch of a tree branch). Resin bees are very similar in size to both Orchard and Leaf-cutter bees, aprox. 1/2 inch in length, and can sometimes be found nesting in artificial bee boxes. North Shore resin bees become most active during the warmer summer months as their cocoons remain hard during the cooler seasons. This species of resin collecting bee has distinctive light colored almost white body markings.

anthidiellum notatum- resin beeResin Bee – (Anthidiellum notatum robertsoni)- Another of our indigenous Resin Bee species, this solitary nesting bee can attach it’s small waterproof cocoons to the small joints in branching tree and shrub limbs. Has been found to nest near sap producing evergreen trees like Douglas Fir. Try planting Vervain (Verbena stricta) to attract this native bee to your garden.

megachile melanophaeaLeaf Cutter Bee – (Megachile melanophaea) – This North Shore native species of solitary, tunnel nesting, bees uses many small round cuttings from leaves to build the cocoon chambers into which it deposits it’s eggs and pollen balls. Leaf cutter bees carry collected pollen in special hairs on the underside of their abdomens, called the “Scopa”, instead of on their rear legs as the bumble bees and honey bees do. Rose plant leaves are a favorite source of nesting material for the leaf cutting bees, and you can often detect signs of their presence in your garden by checking your Rose bushes for their unique small circles and ovals cut out of the edges of the leaves.

megachile roduntataAlfalfa Leaf Cutter Bee – (Megachile rotundata) – This species of Leaf Cutter Bee was introduced to the prairie provinces, from Europe in the 1960′s, to improve the pollination of our commercial produced Alfalfa crops and has spread across all areas of Southern Canada. It is now considered to be a “naturalized” species of North America. This Leaf Cutter Bee can be distinguished from it’s local indigenous relatives by its somewhat larger head to body proportions, short antennae and the white striping on it’s abdomen.

5878200842_ec96aa697e_mWool Carder Bee – (Anthidium manicatum) – This accidentally introduced species of European Wool Carder Bee can be found in many areas of the North Shore, especially around one of its favorite nectar and nesting material plants, Lamb’s Ear (Stachys byzantina). Male Wool Carder Bees are large robust bees that are very territorial and guard areas in the garden waiting for the females to come by collecting plant fibers to line the interior walls of their nest holes. Female Wool Carders often build their nests in abandoned bore hole made by other insects and plug the entrances with small stones to protect the few eggs inside. This aggressive bee species may be replacing our Native Wool Carder Bee (Anthidium mormonum) in the South Coast area.