Native Bee - Leaf Cutter
First there were the signs...
Circles cut from the edges of the Redbud's leaves.Smooth circular cuts about 3/4-inch in diameter around the edge of heart shaped leaves on a young tree. Click on the photo below to enlarge and look closely at the leaves. Or CLICK HERE
Then there were bees, about the size of a honey bee but darker with light bands on the abdomen.
Hairs on the underside of the abdomen carried pollen rather than on the hind legs like other bees.
Leaf cutter bees nest in existing small cavities about 5/6 inch in diameter in tree stumps,rocks, the ground, live trees and even old wasp nests or rotted wood and thick-stemmed pithy plants which can be excavated easily . A tunnel is formed wide enough for the bee to fit into and construct several cells containing pollen and nectar collected to provision overwintering young, usually 4 to 8 inches long. This is a type of bee that will nest in blocks of wood drilled with many holes of a correct size provided by gardeners or farmers to keep bees nearby. Blocks can be kept cold and dormant then placed in areas where pollinators are needed.A single bee's territory can extend over several acres.
Leaf cutters are solitary bees in that each queen makes her own nest,but many will gather very near to each other, sort of condo style.
You need not fear leaf cutters. They are not an aggressive bee and you would have to be trying to handle one to get stung.
Any leaf damage done to ornamentals will not harm the plant and looks kind of interesting.
Not adverse to a bit of bad weather leaf cutter bees are early spring pollinators showing up to pollinate wildflowers and early crops alike, unlike honey bees that are lathargic on cool cloudy days.Areas with long cold winters may only have one generation per year but regions with mild winters could have several.
Sightings map and chart