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Learn About Our 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 by the leafcutter bee to pollinate their alfalfa crop, production increase fifteen-fold. They do not have a stinger and are a gentle generalist 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 the 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, our first ship date is May 19th. Click here to sign up to host leafcutter bees.

Great leafcutter bee picture by local photographer Ed Sullivan

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Bee Amazed

Mason bees
visit up to
2,000
flowers a day
400 Mason bees
do the work of
40,000
honey bees
One Mason bee
block can hold
500
eggs
Farmers
release
1,000
bees per acre
to pollinate their
crops