LEARN: 1. What Are Native Bees?


1.4 Get to Know Summer Leafcutter Bees

1.4 Get to Know Summer Leafcutter Bees

Super Pollinators of Summer

Summer leafcutter bees are hole-nesting bees named after their habit of using cut leaf bits to build protective cocoons. Classically striped, our leafcutter bees are smaller than honey bees. Preferring to fly in warm summer weather, leafcutter bees are perfect for summer-blooming garden vegetables and fruits. Leafcutter bees are super pollinators that can double or triple your yield!

Our summer leafcutter bees are pollinating heroes who saved the alfalfa seed industry in the 1940’s. The weight of the bee makes the flower open and hit the bee on the head with pollen. The sophisticated honey bee does not like to open alfalfa flowers but summer leafcutter bees don’t mind. Originating from Europe, our summer leafcutter bees are now naturalized across North America and summer gardeners can easily raise leafcutter bees to grow more fruits, vegetables, and seeds.

Why Raise Leafcutter Bees:

  • Grow more food like melons, tomatoes, peppers, squash, beans, and peas.

  • Ensure or improve pollination of flowers and seeds.

  • Provide nesting habitat for other summertime bees.

Summer leafcutter bees are very easy to raise! No protective gear needed, no hive or honey upkeep.

  1. Summer set up: 15 min

  2. Fall & winter protection: 10 min

  3. Spring cocoon harvest: 30 min

Summer Leafcutter Bee Characteristics:

  • Solitary, gentle, easy to raise hole-nesting bee

  • Perfect for pollinating summertime open blooms

  • Carry pollen loose & dry on their hairy bellies

  • Fly only 300ft (100m) in their daily search for flowers

  • Start to fly in daytime temps of 75F/24C and above

  • Prefer 6mm sized nesting holes

  • Gather leaves for building protective cocoons

  • Mother bee builds leafy cocoons that are not waterproof

  • Hibernate over the fall and winter as delicate larvae

  • Can produce multiple generations per season

  • Personality: a little shy and you may need to stand still as you watch them

Identifying genders:

Male leafcutter bees have bright green eyes, large tufts of hair, and long antennae. Female leafcutter bees are larger with white belly hair and large mandibles (jaws) for cutting and carrying whole leaf bits back to the nest.

We are leafcutter bee raising experts with a passion for sharing our knowledge with the goals of ensuring the health of the bees and helping gardeners and farmers grow more food. Follow our leafcutter bee raising steps and sign up for BeeMail for timely tips and reminders.

Topic Completion

What Are Native Bees?