In the Woodpile
January 3, 2012
While splitting some aspen on Sunday I came across a perfect circular hole the diameter of my finger in one of the cut ends. A strike with the maul and the wood split along the hole. Inside was what looked like a green leafy cigar divided into six sections. In each chamber a leaf-cutter bee larva (genus Megachile) is overwintering. Inside it is nourished by pollen ball provided by the female who dug the cavity, cut the leaves, and laid the eggs. Leaf-cutting bees are solitary bees unlike hive forming honey bees and yellow jackets.
Under regular conditions this larva would pupate into an adult bee and emerge by late spring to early summer. Research indicates that some species of leaf-cutters are at least twenty times as effective at pollinating as honeybees. These important insects can be thanked for the beautiful wildflowers we see in the summer months.