How to recognise it
Leaf-cutter bees are about 1cm long and hairy; they are closely related to honey bees.
The females cut sections from leaves to form small, sausage-shaped ‘cells’ in decaying wood, brickwork, canes or burrows in light soil. They place a mixture of pollen and/or nectar in each cell to feed the larvae and lay a single egg in it, before sealing it up with another section of leaf. They build up to 20 cells, end to end, in this way. The larvae feed in the cells over the summer before overwintering in them and pupating the following spring. The new generation of adults then emerge in June. The males die shortly after mating, while the females live long enough to create the new cells and lay their eggs.
Why it’s a problem
The bees cut neat, semicircular or oblong sections from the leaf edges. The damage tends to be minor and is unlikely to cause the plant any long term negative effects.
Where you are likely to find it
On roses, laburnums, lilacs, privet, rhododendrons, wisteria and other ornamental plants. Damage is found over the summer months.
How to deter it
Removing potential overwintering sites (such as decaying wood, canes or cracks in brickwork) will prevent the bees nesting in your garden, thereby limiting the risk of infestation.
How to get rid of it
Plants are rarely severely affected by this pest so there is no need to use controls against them. Preventative action is the best option.
Is it good for anything?!
Bees are important pollinators of a huge number of plants, so gardeners should really consider them a benefit to the garden rather than a pest.