Leafcutter Diaries 1 – 21st June 2017

Every evening when I get home from work one of the first things I do is head on out into the garden.  I love to potter around for 5 minutes of so, filling the bird feeders and checking out what’s been going on – it gives me some much needed reprieve after a long day at work and busy commute.

Today as soon as I opened the door I could hear a strange crunching noise coming from the bottom of the garden.  I headed down there and found the source of the noise at the beehouses.  One of the houses I made this year was a bit of an experiment and uses dry plant oasis as the nesting material.  It was this house the sound was coming from.  I made myself comfortable and waited.

As it happens I didn’t have to wait long before the culprit emerged – a Leafcutter bee!  She was entering each hole and chewing them to make them precisely the right size for her.  Every couple of minutes she’d back out of the hole, pushing the ‘spoil’ out behind her as she went.  I ran for my camera and managed to get a couple of shots but the combination of the dull evening light and her frantic activity meant that these weren’t the best.  All the same, I wanted to record this.  We’d had Leafcutter bees in the garden before foraging, mainly the smaller Patchwork Leafcutter bee (Megachile centuncularis), but this was the first time I’d ever seen one near the beehouses.

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This Leafcutter seemed larger than the normal foragers though.  I knew there wasn’t much possibility of being able to ID her (she had to be female as the chewing is nesting behaviour) due to the amount of oasis she had stuck to her body.  I’d just have to hope she found the accommodation on offer acceptable and decided to stick around!

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