A woolly nest

It’s getting to the end of summer but there are still things blooming in the garden. And the bees have reached new levels of abundance! Perhaps the sporadic and spread out nature of the flowering plants these days, the bees are concentrated on the remaining flowers, or perhaps there are just more bees at this time of year. Some of them are honey bees, of course, but a lot of them aren’t.


There were digger bees, black sweat bees, green sweat bees, and more! Some caught my eye in particular, the woolly carder bees.


Wool Carder Bee

Wool Carder Bee

These are in the family Megachilidae, which is mostly made of leaf cutting and parasitic bees. But these guys are different. They feed on one nectar like other bees, and build their own nests. The females collect fuzz and wool from around the environment to line their nest. I didn’t find a nest, but here’s a cool photo of ones from Flickr. The males are highly aggressive in defending their territory from other bees.

They have wide abdomens with bold yellow strips that don’t connect in the middle. They hold their wings up and back, which makes them easy to spot on flowers.

These bees are not native to the United States. They were accidentally introduced in the 1960’s and slowly spread across the country. They are not harmful to native bees, flowers, or wildlife. Really they are pretty cute!



About keviclaire

I recently graduated from the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley. My research interests are focused on biological control and how to increase it's use in agriculture and home gardens. I am also an avid gardener and insect photographer. I'm using this blog as a place to share those interests!

2 responses to “A woolly nest”

  1. Helen says :

    Are all bees able to sting?


  2. keviclaire says :

    Pretty much all female bees can sting, but no male bee can as the stinger is modified ovipositer.


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