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Australian Wildlife

  Alfalfa Leafcutter Bee (Megachile rotundata)





Alfalfa Leafcutter Bee | Megachile rotundata photo
Alfalfa Leafcutter Bee on an alfalfa flower.

Image by Peggy Greb, USDA-ARS - License: Public Domain.    (view image details)



INSECT FACTS

Identification
The Alfalfa Leafcutter Bee is mainly black with light bands across the abdomen. The underside of the bee is covered with pale hairs. Females have a more pointed abdomen than the male and have a patch of white bristles under the abdomen used to carry pollen. (Alfalfa Leafcutter Bees use their abdomen to collect pollen - not the sides of their legs like honey bees). The leafcutter bee Megachile rotundata was introduced into Australia in the 1980s for lucerne pollination. In some countries, the Alfalfa Leafcutter Bee is a commercially valuable pollinator of alfalfa, and shelters are built with thousands of artificial nesting holes drilled in boards or blocks of polystyrene.

Size
Females are about 9mm long, males are about 5mm.

Breeding
Nests in existing holes in wood or other materials. The female makes nest cells out of pieces of leaf cut from alfalfa plants. It takes about 15 pieces of leaf to make each cell. The cells are made back to back in a row in the nest tunnel.



Classification
Class:Insecta
Order:Hymenoptera
Family:Megachilidae
Genus:Megachile
Species:rotundata
Common Name:Alfalfa Leafcutter Bee

Relatives in same Genus
  Leafcutter Bee (M. unknown species)