Anthidium manicatum carding wool


I have some Stachys towards the bottom of the garden.

Not many people can resist stroking the soft furry leaves of Stachys.


But if you see patches on the stem or leaves that are lacking the hairs, it could be that you have an interesting bee in the neighbourhood.

Anthinium manicatum on stem

Yesterday in the garden I noticed this Anthidium manicatum, or wool carder bee making repeated visits to my Stachys.  She must have razor sharp mandibles as the stem is shaved in a firm downward movement.

Anthidium manicatum no hands

She has now collected her bale and is about to fly back to her nest.  I watched her arrive and it took less than a minute for her to roll up a ball of the soft fibres.  I don’t know where she has her nest but last Setember one nested in one of my bee houses and I described it in my other blog A French Garden.  Check out Mason bee hotels or houses to see where she nested.

Anthophora furcata

It was not only the Anthidium that was interested in the Stachys.

Anthophora furcata on Stachys

As I waited for the Anthidium to return, I noticed an Anthophora furcata.

Anthophora furcata on Stachys

Stachys looks and incredibly soft and welcoming plant for bees.


I shouldn’t forget the Carpenter who passed by too but she gets everywhere!


11 thoughts on “Anthidium manicatum carding wool

  1. Fantastic photos Amelia, love the one where your bee has its head firmly in the stem. I will be looking out on my Stachys now to see if I have any signs of Wool Carder Bees.


    • They like the sunshine so have a look on a warm day but the shaved areas will alert you to whether they are around or not. You will have more chance if you are in the south of the U.K. as they are a lot rarer up north. Amelia

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Fascinating to think of the bee collecting wool for her nest. This year there seem to be more carpenter bees than anything else in the garden. Their favourite flower is the wisteria and that has more large secondary flowers than usual.


    • I was so impressed with her technique, I had imagined her pulling the hairs one by one, but she shears the leaves with as much precision as if she was using a cut-throat razor. My Wisteria hasn’t had its second bloom yet but I am still seeing a lot of carpenters this year. Amelia

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Fantastic photos Amelia. I’m not sure I’ve asked you before, but I wonder what camera and lens you use? You certainly have superb detail. Your Stachys is way ahead of ours, but I must nip out and have a look for any shaved sections. I wonder with its name, whether in the absence of a furry plant stem it actually collects loose bits of sheep’s wool for nest material?
    Best wishes
    I also wonder why the Stachys has such a woolly stem covering? Is a it a detererrent against herbivore attack? Or does it have an insulating effect?


    • I’m glad you liked the photographs. I have a Canon 60D and I use the Canon 100mm Macro lens for close ups and I am very pleased with it. My other lens is a Canon kit 18-135 and I can see the difference in quality. I would guess that taking sheep wool instead of cutting plant hairs would be too much of behavioural leap for a bee but I would love to imagine a Welsh bee that made its nest with sheeps’ wool. I have heard that the fine hairs that cover many of the grey/green plants that do well in hot dry areas help the plant protect its leaves from the sun and reduce dessication. I’m not sure whether Anthidium manicatum is present in the colder corners of Wales as it is more common in the south of England. Amelia

      Liked by 1 person

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