Bees of the Week: genus Anthidium

A female Anthidium collects plant hairs to add to her nest.

A female Anthidium collects plant hairs to add to her nest.

Scientific name: Anthidium

Common name: Wool carder bees

Family: Megachilidae

Nest type: hairs from plants, but may include debris

Size: 8-15 mm (males larger than females)

Nest tunnels used: 1/2” down to 5/16”

Looks like: Black and yellow striped bees

It’s finally fall, as evidenced by a lonely couple of snowflakes I saw out my window this morning. Aside from listening to “September” by Earth, Wind, and Fire on repeat, we’re preparing for the season by unearthing our sweaters and keeping an eye out for late-season bees. Bees from the Anthidium genus seem to be like-minded: they line their cells and make their nest plugs by collecting plant fuzz (or “wool”) from plants like Lamb’s Ear.  The fluff looks like cotton wool and it might include some debris (like tiny sticks or pebbles) depending on the species. Sounds pretty warm to me!

Plant hairs are used by Anthidium to create cottony nest plugs

Plant hairs are used by Anthidium to create cottony nest plugs

Unlike other members of their family Megachilidae, Anthidium species don’t cut out parts of leaves or petals for nest use. It’s an easy way to distinguish them from bees from the Megachile genus we talked about in July. In many other genera, the males are smaller than females. Not so for Anthidium manicatum–the males are quite a bit larger than females and are aggressively territorial. They’ll tirelessly defend everything within their range from females to flowers, using their considerable heft to intimidate other visitors.

DID YOU KNOW: Anthidium are generalists, meaning you can spot them on many flowers in your garden if you’ve got any still hanging on.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

http://bugguide.net/node/view/7743

http://www.discoverlife.org/mp/20q?guide=Anthidium

http://www.bwars.com/index.php?q=content/beginners-bees-and-wasps-anthidium-manicatum

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthidium

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthidium_manicatum

 

 

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This entry was posted in 2014, Insect of the Week, Nest Plugs, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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