Leafcutter bees need leaves, leaves and more leaves - it really is as simple as that.
To better understand why, let’s take a look at the typical cycle for the female preparing the nest and laying eggs, to help us identify what’s involved in the process:
- Quick foraging for food (nectar provides energy!) and locating an appropriate nesting hole (2-3 days).
- Finding and marking her specific hole (this way, she knows which hole is hers and so do the other females).
- Collecting leaf pieces to make a partition at the back of her chosen hole. Following a nice day with plenty of bloom available, she will then go on to make a mad, day-long sprint of pollen/nectar gathering (15-20 trips)
- Laying an egg a day on each nectar and saliva-moistened pollen loaf, then creating a leafy partition for the next egg. Leaves of rose bushes are favored as well as other non-fibrous plant leafs. You’ll notice perfectly round holes in the leaves. Don’t be alarmed. A few of these cuttings won’t harm your plants - and you’ll be pleased knowing it’s all happening for the greater good.
The above steps are repeated until reaching the end of the nesting hole. If not eaten by predators, or killed by pesticides, she’ll live about 8-12 weeks, completing about two “holes” with an average of 15 total egg chambers, each filled with pollen, 1 egg & leaf.
The bottom line is, keep your leafcutter bees happy and you’ll be rewarded with a healthy garden yield, flowering plants and more leafcutter bee cocoons than when you started ready for next summers garden pollination!