Leaf-cutter bee at work

A type of bee I've been aware of for several years is the leaf-cutter bee - it's hard not to be aware of it when the leaves on a certain plant show large indentations in their normally round shape, as pieces are cut from their edges. I've seen this on roses occasionally, but last year noticed my epimediums looking rather bedraggled too. It didn't occur to me that a bee would be responsible, until I happened to be near them one day when a bee visited, swiftly sawed through a circle of leaf, and carried it off. I waited until it happened several times, just to be sure.

This year, properly prepared, I managed to capture the leaf-cutter bee on camera.

Epimedium leaves after visit from leaf-cutter bee

Somewhere there's a nest lined with bits of my epimediums. This photo shows one of the leaves - many of them were like this. I would have to be a bit of an old misery though to begrudge the hard-working bees a few bits of leaf. I was really impressed by the speed at which they cut these holes, and then carry off the leaf pieces which almost seem too heavy for them.

Links to more information

For more information, see http://west-penwith.org.uk/blog/archives/94

See this page for excellent photos of a leaf-cutter bee in action.

Information on solitary bees (including leaf-cutter bees) from www.insectpix.net

How to get a buzz out of your garden - the Guardian

International Bee Research Association - includes a helpful FAQs page

Chewed epimedium leaves

Above: epimedium leaves in early July 2006 after attention from leaf-cutter bees.