Order and Family:
Megachilidae, Megachilid Bees
3/8-1/2″ (10-12 mm). Black with long pale whitish-yellow hair, particularly below thorax and abdomen. Abdomen mostly bare, each segment narrowly fringed with whitish hair. Wings clear, veins black. Pollen brush below abdominal segments 2-5 is bright red.
Adult drinks nectar of many flowers, especially composites. Larva feeds on nectar and pollen.
A leafcutting bee can snip off a leaf fragment in less than a minute, using its sharp mandibles. But because it pollinates alfalfa and other crops, it is considered highly beneficial rather than harmful. Some related species use resins from plants to cement together materials for the nest.
Meadows and orchards.
Nebraska to Texas and Mexico, west to California, north to British Columbia and Alberta.
Leafcutter bees convert clay into a cementlike material. Some species include plant fragments in their nest construction. Others build inside empty snail shells, and still others line each nest with snips of flower petals.
WARNING: As with all bee species, the females are capable of stinging when provoked.