Point of view is everything. On Monday evening I attended a pollinator meeting in Olympia. Part of the discussion centered on leafcutting bees and how gardeners often lament the damage the bees inflict on their precious plants, as in “Oh no! Look what they did to my roses!” On the flip side, bee lovers are ecstatic, “Oh my! Perfect circles!”
If you’re not sure of my position in this debate, here are some photos of exquisitely missing disks. The leafcutting bees use the leaf and petal pieces to line their nests and build partitions. You can tell the size of the bee by the diameter of the circle. I have several species living here, Megachile rotundata, the small alfalfa leafcutting bee, the larger western leafcutting bee, Megachile perihirta, and another even bigger one that I haven’t yet identified.
I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent trying to photograph a leafcutter cutting, but I have never seen it happen. I sometimes see them dragging disks into their tubes, but so far, no cutting. If I leave the garden for even an instant, more circles appear. Perhaps I need a duck blind or a suit of camo.
Honey Bee Suite