Bee Bread in a Basket

March 2010

Who left these leaves? 

Within a basket of towels I found pieces of plant. When I examined the ‘plant’ I found there were several compartments, each sealed cleverly with two circles of beautifully fitted leaf. Each compartment held a grub and some crumbly orange ‘stuff’. What animal did this?

Answer

What fabulous photos and observations! You have clearly recorded the larval history of a Leafcutter Bee, Megachile sp. The solitary female Leafcutter Bee constructs these leafy cells from soft leaves and then lays a single egg on top of the ‘larder’, the orange crumbly stuff. This is a mixture of pollen and nectar (bee-bread) and is the food for the growing bee grub or larva. Several cells are joined together in a cylindrical construction and often tucked into a crevice. 

Female bees seek various crevices such as drilled holes, holes made by large wood-boring insects and the folds of mats and towels in which to make their nests.

We have put photos below of the adult bee and the telltale circular holes left in leaves by the female to complete the story.

Leafcutter Bee complete nest Leafcutter Bee larva and cells pupa exposed

megachile leaf damage megachile sp

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