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Learn About Summer Leafcutter Bees

Rent Mason Bees rents two types of bees. Mason bees are the spring bees that fly March-May. They are done laying their eggs mid May and you mail you nesting blocks back in September when the larvae have spun a cocoon. The second bee we work with is a leafcutter bee that flies in June through August when your vegetable garden is in bloom. If you’ve enjoyed hosting mason bees you may want to consider hosting leafcutter bees for the summer. If you rented mason bees for the spring, you can use the same outer black house and rent our leafcutter insert. The leafcutter bees start inside of the nesting block and will emerge when day time temperatures are in the mid 70s F.

Learn more about leafcutter bees…
Leafcutter bees are the world’s primary pollinator of alfalfa (responsible for 2/3 of total production), which feeds pigs and dairy cows. Leafcutter bees are not bothered by the spring-loaded pistil of the alfalfa flower, unlike larger honeybees that trip the spring mechanism and get pollen in their faces. Once farmers replaced the honeybee with the leafcutter bee to pollinate their alfalfa crop, production increased fifteen-fold. They do not have a stinger and are a gentle bee that will visit a majority of types of flowers in your backyard during their flying months of June through August.

Leafcutter bees are solitary, gregarious (like to live near each other) cavity-nesting bees. The leafcutter bee will sit on a leaf, hold it with her legs, and chew a small portion of a leaf around herself. Once it is completely chewed, she and the leaf will free-fall until she is able to fly away with the leaf fragment. She will bring the piece of leaf back to her nesting hole, and chew it until it becomes pliable. Multiple pieces are then attached in long sheets, pushed up against the walls of the hole, and filled with pollen, nectar and an egg. She will then wrap the leaf pieces around the contents. It can take up to three hours to wrap a single offspring in the protective leaves! The offspring will remain wrapped up until the follow year until they chew their way out when temperatures rise above 80 degrees. They are a very small bee and won’t cause harm to your plants. The plant will still be able to grow and photosynthesize.

The biggest difference between leafcutter bees and mason bees is that instead of using mud to plug the nesting holes, leafcutter bees use leaf material to protect their offspring. Leafcutter bees are great pollinators for your summer gardens and can help you grow more food in your yard.


We have a limited supply of leafcutter bees this year. If you are interested in hosting leafcutter bees, please place your order and we will ship them to you.

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Reader Interactions


  1. Barbara says

    Are any of the blocks available for sale? If a person can put aside the mason bee blocks for the summer and put out the leaf cutter bee blocks, why does one have to send them back? Seems like it would be a waste of time and money to keep sending these blocks.

    • Thyra McKelvie says

      Hi Barbara, we don’t sell our blocks. At Rent Mason Bees we provide an option to rent solitary bees because we want to offer a way for people to interact with and host native bee populations but not have to worry about doing the work the rest of the year. We realize that some people want the entire year experience of caring and cleaning mason bees, but for those who want to support bees and get their yards pollinated but not worry about cleaning all the mites off cocoons, sterilizing the nesting blocks and storing safely over winter, they rent from us.
      The following spring, healthy bees are returned to backyard gardens and sent to farmers across the U.S. to help them produce more food such as apples, blueberries, pears, cherries and almonds. One third of the food we eat is pollinated by bees, so you help farmers make more food and reduce the stressful workload placed on honeybee colonies when they work alongside solitary bees.
      In this blog post we talk more about our program and our cleaning process.

  2. Michael wham says

    I’m a beekeeper with 20 hives. These bees originated from Saskatchewan, Canada and are absolutely amazing at surviving! I’ve kept bees since 2013 and ordered these in 2016. All the other bees came from the south and died regardless of what I did to manage them . I have red bud tress in my yard in which I used to see mason bees and other spring bees visit until the last 2 years.

  3. Kathy says

    I found one of the leaf tubes between some lumber. Where should I put it to ensure the safety of the bee?

    • Thyra McKelvie says

      Oh wow! Very cool. Can you email us a photo. I’ll email you my address.
      Leafcutter bees work is a piece of art and in between lumber would be beautiful.
      Do you know if it was from last summer or recent? If from last summer, they’ll emerge when temps get 75+. If you can find a little box, like a jello box or mac n cheese box, you can cut holes in the box and place the leaf tube inside to protect it from the birds. Then, place in a dry spot and they’ll emerge when the weather warms up.

  4. Ann Fitch says

    I’m wonder why the dimension of the box isn’t mentioned. In my case it is important to know. Thank you

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Mason bees
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400 Mason bees
do the work of
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One Mason bee
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