Nesting materials for leafcutter bees
The leafcutter bee needs a hole big enough to get into, and deep enough to protect her laid eggs from predators. She prefers a snug fit over larger holes. You will notice that our leafcutter bee houses are designed for leafcutter bees, but it’s worth remembering you may also attract and encourage other beneficial native solitary bees and wasps - which can only be a good thing.
Materials required to build the nest must also be easy for you to remove at the end of the pollinating season. You’ll want to harvest and overwinter your cocoons to get healthy offspring for next season.
Ultimately, we want leafcutter bees to thrive, not just survive from season to season. If you can’t harvest your cocoons in the autumn (because you can’t get to the cocoons), then sadly you’re destined to fail over a short period of time. Inattention to cocoons leaves them vulnerable to predators, disease and environmental elements, therefore it is critical to take on board the key points.
Here are a few tips that will be useful in raising leafcutter bees...
Our wooden inter-locking nesting trays have been specially designed to be removed allowing full access to the cocoons, the nesting trays are burnished on the fronts helping the bees find their chosen nesting hole. You can add a few sticks or paint colourful spots on the front to help her find her nesting hole. Bees can’t see red, but other colours will work.
DIY bee house - although a drilled block of wood is mostly a “Do it yourself” solitary bee house, it is “old technology” and essentially winds up becoming a solitary bee cemetery within a few years due to pest buildup within each hole.
Avoid using bamboo tubes. Bamboo is such a strong material that it can’t be opened up without harming the bees. Bamboo, although cheap, is not a good medium for raising leafcutter bees. Plastic tubes or drinking straws also cause significant problems as the plastic does not allow any moisture to dissipate and the cocoons will start to show signs of mould growth.
The leafcutter bee will only lay eggs in her own nest or hole. While she doesn’t mind neighbours, there is no community raising of bees, so ensure there is plenty of pollen sources nearby available at her disposal.