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.
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.