Willughby's Leaf-Cutter Bee is a medium-sized bee that's a common resident in urbanised areas like city gardens and parks. These bees build their nests by cutting perfect semi-circles from foliage, carrying cuttings between their legs as they fly back to the nesting site. They use the leaf material to build nests for their young. They also collect pollen on their stomachs as opposed to using pollen baskets, and this is done using a structure known as a pollen brush. If you look close enough, you can see all the pollen stuck to the abdomen, and this can be a variety of colours depending on what flower that bee has visited. Leaf-cutter bees are very efficient, collecting roughly 20x more pollen than your average honeybee.
Plants can look less attractive with parts cut out, but this is entirely based on opinion!
The leaf-cutter bee is an important pollinator and is great to observe in the garden.
These bees are around 1-2cm in length and have a dark brown-black abdomen. The females have a bright orange pollen brush underneath as well. They lack any significant banding, with shiny, brown-black abdomens. They possess some yellow hairs on the thorax and bright orange undersides. These bees are strikingly similar to other leaf-cutter bees, so identification to species level can be difficult without careful examination.
Leaves have semi-circular holes where the bees have snipped away at them.
These bees are present in some parts of Europe.
These bees are effective pollinators, bringing many benefits to gardens. Encourage these bees to your garden by planting bee-friendly flowers and fruits. These bees will readily make use of insect and bee hotels. Different species can have different preferences in hotels, so be sure to do some research. Hotels sold from commercial chains can often be more harmful than good to bees. The main reason being, hotel parts need to be removable and washed. Hotels that aren't washable harbour parasites and these can quickly make the bee residents health decline.
It's not suggested to treat gardens for bees, they provide a key ecosystem service that's vital for plant reproduction!