Saturday, 20 September 2014

SATURDAY CRITTERS - Leaf -Cutter Bee- Slow Motion

I had never heard of a Leaf Cutter Bee before my friend Eileen from the Isle of Wight said she had videoed one in slow motion.  So  I have edited all the stills and video she gave me and I thought you would be interested to see them.

The Leaf-cutter Bee Megachile centuncularis 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.

The Leaf-cutter Bee looks like a 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; semi-circular holes in the leaves of garden plants also denote its presence. There are various species of leaf-cutter bee in Britain, which are very difficult to tell apart.

Female alfalfa Leaf Cutter bees have stingers, but both sexes will use their mandibles as a defensive mechanism, usually only defending themselves when squeezed or antagonized. Therefore, bee suits, such as those required with honey bees, are not necessary when dealing with these bees. The ratio of males to females is generally two to one.

 Females in the wild create nests in small holes in the ground or in available cracks/crevices in trees or buildings. The nests are composed of a string of individual cells, as many as the space will allow. When managed for pollination, the females are induced to nest in drinking straws or drilled blocks of wood.

This is a shot I took off the internet to show you
 how the make the cuts in the leaves.

Each cell is made from circular disks cut from plant leaves using the bee's mandibles, hence the name "leafcutter". While the bees do not store honey, females do collect pollen and nectar which they store in the cells of their nests. Each cell contains one pollen and nectar ball and one egg. The larva develops rapidly, consuming the pollen ball and entering diapause when the pollen is fully consumed. The next spring, the mature larva pupates and completes its development. Once the bee is developed, it cuts its way out from the nest.

When these bees are supplied to farmers for pollinating crops, they are usually supplied in a dormant state called pre-pupa, which is kept in the dormant state by a constant temperature of about 7°C. At a time that is appropriate for the crop's flowers, the farmer puts the pre-pupal form in an incubating environment, which is a constant temperature of about 27°C. The adult bees emerge from the pupal form after about 25 days at that temperature. Then the farmer brings the bees to the field.

I hope you found this post interesting.

The video which is in slow motion can be access at

If there is a black space below, click it and the video will appear.

I am linking this post with SATURDAY CRITTERS.

Thank you for visiting and also to those who leave comments on any of my posts.

Also thanks to Eileen for the video.


  1. They are fascinating creatures. We get them here in Oz too, but I almost never see them - just where they have been.

  2. Fascinating and hard working little insects. A great post. :)

  3. I never heard of these, either. Great post and pics!

  4. OH wow, this is new to me. I have never heard of the leaf cutter bee. Cool video. Thank you for linking up, have a great weekend!

  5. Margaret, this is awesome. I can't wait to share your post with my grandson when he visits. :)

  6. we used to have these in wisconsin (or ones similar)

  7. Fabulous study of these creatures. I have also never heard of this before. Thanks for sharing your pictures.

  8. what a fascinating post, leaf-cutter bees I had never heard of, they are yet another example of just when I think I know it all!!! :-)

  9. That was terrific! I don't think I've ever seen one.

  10. I not only found it interesting, it is fantastic! And the shots showing everything!! WOW and WOW!!! Love your story about them, too!