Bees – leaf cutters: who are they, features, benefits and harms of the breed

Not bringing honey, but such a valuable leaf cutter bee. Leads an isolated lifestyle, harms ornamental crops, simply destroying the leaves, gnawing circular areas on them. But this is a valuable breed listed in the Red Book.

Description of bee – leaf cutter

Many are not familiar with this solitary worker, whose behavior is more reminiscent of a wasp. Many simply did not pay attention to her. But they saw how a seemingly ordinary bee gnaws leaves on bushes. This is troubling to the owners. Among beekeepers, it is known as the alfalfa leaf cutter bee. It is prized for its unique natural ability. It is the best pollinator for honey plants.

Outwardly, they resemble working individuals of an ordinary bee. Insects have a slightly larger abdomen, in the lower part of which there are many bristles, where pollen is collected. There are about three subspecies:

  • apical;
  • hare-legged;
  • silvery.

Each of them has characteristic differences. The insect prefers a certain type of plant. The apical bee prefers the leaves of hawthorn and rose hips. Favorite places of the hare-footed subspecies are the bushes of lilac, hawthorn, they can be found on cherry leaves and in grape thickets. On the leaves of roses, hawthorn, rose hips, silver leaf cutters are more common.


Bees - leaf cutters: who are they, features, benefits and harms of the breed

Leaf cutters feed on pollen and nectar. More often found as single individuals on the leaves of roses, sage, alfalfa and clover. It has strong jaws (mandibles), with which it gnaws and grinds leaves. It feeds on nectar, and the collected leaves are used for breeding.

Due to the specific bristles on the abdomen, the bee collects a large amount of pollen, being a unique natural plant pollinator. A distinctive feature is a short life cycle. The female lives for about two months, the males for no more than four weeks.


The main purpose of the emerging individual is reproduction. Drones from the first days of their existence begin an active struggle for females. After the male fertilizes the uterus, he dies. The female leaf cutter during her short life cycle is busy only with breeding offspring. Nests are built from the cut fragments, nectar and pollen are used for food.

The leaf cutter bee does not nest in hives and lives separately, nesting in pipe branches, earthworm burrows. The cutter uses the cut leaves to line, block its own nest, to create a kind of cup, in which only one egg and a supply of feed are laid. The cup is sealed with ground or small plant fragments. In her short life, each female is capable of producing 20 to 40 individuals.

Features of behavior and distribution

Bees - leaf cutters: who are they, features, benefits and harms of the breed

Many have seen bees spinning strangely on the leaves, carving out even round or oval fragments in them. This is a distinctive feature of behavior. The bee takes a piece of the cut out fragment to the place of its nesting.


Cutting fragments into plant leaves, the leaf cutter bee does not harm it, since it does not destroy the vascular system of plants. It only spoils the decorative look, which causes concern to flower growers.

From each piece, the bee immediately folds a cell in the form of a tube, where it lays an egg a little later. Selects absolutely healthy, but soft plant leaves.

How leaf cutter bees build a nest

Bees - leaf cutters: who are they, features, benefits and harms of the breed

The leaf cutter bee does not live in the hive, does not produce honey. She uses the collected nectar for her own nutrition and feeding the offspring. Nests are built in hollow branches and trunks of plants, in the voids of rotten trees. Leaves are taken to the nesting site, from which the bee rolls small bowls, similar to small thimbles. A little later, she lays one egg here, food and seals this peculiar cell.

In the early days, such a nest is quite soft and easy to disassemble. But after a few days it pupates due to the release of a sticky substance by the larva, turning into a hard, dense cocoon. The supply of food inside the cocoon is enough for the entire wintering period until the onset of warm days. Almost a year later, a new individual appears.

Benefit, harm from insect

Bees - leaf cutters: who are they, features, benefits and harms of the breed

Most owners of suburban areas consider the leaf cutter bee a pest. After all, its activity leads to the fact that the leaves of beautiful plants, vineyards look gnawed. This is more of a decorative harm, because the leaves do not die and retain their rich color and healthy appearance. After the eggs are laid, the leaf cutter bee stops pestering the plants.

Beekeepers do not classify the leaf cutter as a pest. In search of nectar, she flies around large plantations of honey plants, pollinating them. There is always a large amount of pollen on the hairy abdomen. Therefore, if it does not cause much harm to garden plants, you should not destroy such harmless pests. They already have a short age.

How to identify the appearance in the garden

It is quite simple to understand that a leaf cutter bee has settled next to the site. This is indicated by the gnawed leaves of vineyards, roses, cherries and other plants. The nest is usually located somewhere nearby. It is worth monitoring the behavior and this will help to quickly find the place of its permanent habitat.

Do I need to deal with a bee leaf cutter

If garden plants are not intended for further sale, then it is not worth fighting the leaf cutter at all. For fruit and vegetable crops in your garden, the bee will bring more benefits. By pollinating plants, it significantly increases yields. Therefore, if the appearance of not very beautiful leaves does not bother, then you should not destroy the bees of leaf cutters.

Fighting bees with leaf cutters

Bees - leaf cutters: who are they, features, benefits and harms of the breed

If such a neighborhood is troublesome, then getting rid of it is easy. Plants can be treated with pesticides intended for pests. In this case, she will die. But this is not worth doing, since this is a rare species listed in the Red Book. To preserve the integrity and decorative appearance of the leaf, it is recommended to cover the bushes with a special net. But there is no harm from the neighborhood. This is a good neighborhood, and it will definitely be beneficial.

Plant protection methods

Bees - leaf cutters: who are they, features, benefits and harms of the breed

If leaf cutters appear near the site and this causes concern, then it is better not to destroy them completely. Ornamental plants can be protected with a net. In the event that the methods of struggle are global, you will have to find a nest. Next year, new individuals will appear from one nest, which will again spoil the appearance of beautiful plants.

Finding a nest is not difficult. It is located somewhere near the place of “work”. If found, it can be moved to another location, but many prefer to destroy it. To do this, just follow a few simple steps:

  • smoke the nest, although it rarely bites;
  • using an aerosol with poison, treat the nest;
  • place the treated nest in a plastic bag and remove it from the site.

It is not necessary to run to the store to prepare a destructive product. The nest can be destroyed with a solution prepared from a solution of potassium permanganate with vinegar. It is enough to pour about 100 grams into a small spray bottle. vinegar and add a couple of potassium permanganate crystals. After dissolving, treat the nest and it will be destroyed.

A bit cruel, especially when you consider that he is an active assistant in his own area. You can sacrifice the decorative look of the leaves for the life of this worker, which will be rewarded in the form of a generous autumn harvest.

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Anna Evans

Author ✓ Farmer

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