Megachiles collect their pollen on brushes under their abdomen. The colour of these hairs can often be used to help identify the species.
But as with anything else used in identifying bees – it has its limits. The underside of the bee can look the same colour as the pollen when it is heavily loaded.
That’s a good load of pollen!
They are commonly know as leaf cutter bees as they choose already existing holes and line them with leaves to lay their eggs with a pollen and nectar store before sealing the cell with more leaves. They choose leaves that can be manipulated easily from trees such as lilac, ash or cherry or flower leaves such as roses or even rose, poppy or geranium petals.
5 September 2013
You can see her determination to fit this piece where she wants it. This shot was taken in my home-made bee hotel and I recommend trying one out as they are fascinating bees to watch.
This one was a late riser. Perhaps she had had a busy building job the previous day. It was 9.49 a.m. on the 26 August 2013 and she was still asleep with the last leaf she had brought home acting as a blanket.
On the 4 September 2013 one of the bees finished off their nest with rose petals – class!
I’m going to go for a photographic ID (i.e. not an expert one) and say that this is Megachile centuncularis on my dahlia at the beginning of October 2013. These are the bees I believe are nesting in my bee hotels. In addition, the wing venation checks out with the images I’ve seen.
But there are other bees that look like Megachile around, like this tiny black one on Centaurea nigra in early August.
And this one with green eyes on Bird’s Foot Trefoil in late June (I think probably, Megachile leachella). Although these last two may be tricking me with their ventral pollen brushes as Osmia and Lithurgus bees have ventral pollen brushes too.
But I’m as satisfied as I can be that she is Megachile centuncularis.
I see a lot of Halictus bees around. The females have a slit at the rear of their abdomen but this feature is shared with Lassioglossoms so it is not definitive, but it helps. They often have white hair bands on their abdomen. They often nest in aggregations and I see lots of signs of bees nesting in the sandy/chalky soil of this area.
I see them on a lot of the flowers in the garden. Here the bee is on Hibiscus syriacus, this is in the Malvaceae family, at the end of September 2013.
Here on Centaurea nigra (common knapweed) in the Asteraceae again towards the end of September 2013.
And again on the Rudbeckia (Asteraceae) at the beginning of October 2013.
But here on the Heptacodium jasminoides (Caprifoliaceae or honeysuckle family), the male Halictus sexcinctus displays his two-tone antenna which end in a hook shape. This separates him out from the other Halictes I see in the garden.
I was trying to take a photograph of the female on a Dahlia at the end of August last year when the male rapidly descended on her.
This shows a good view of the male’s face.
The female was little concerned with the male’s interest. She appeared more interested in gathering nectar but you can see the pollen hairs on the hind femur and tibia full of pollen. You will also notice I have a problem with snails eating my dahlias.
This picture gives an idea of the difference in size as the heads are one above the other. The male’s head is smaller and his body longer and finer than the female.
I watched them for six minutes. The male did not relax his attention and the female did not appear any more interested during this period but the action was rapid, too rapid to deduce whether he was successful or not.
My identification of Halictus sexcinctus takes me up to fourteen in the twenty I’ve challenged myself to identify. My problem is that I have been too slow at sorting out last years pictures before I am being overtaken by lots of lovely interesting bees appearing in the garden.