DAKOTABEES.COM         Made in Colorado
10090 W 27th Ave Wheat Ridge CO 80215 Closed Wednesdays and Thursdays
720-621-7305 open Monday Tuesday Friday 12pm to 5pm Saturday Sundays 12pm to 5pm 
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Leaf Cutter Bees
10090 W 27th Ave Wheat Ridge CO 80215
720-621-7305 open Monday through Saturday 12pm to 7pm Sundays 12pm to 5pm

Colorado native bees include mason bees, leaf cutter bees, sweat bees, squash bees, bumble bees, and are some of natures best pollinators. They are found through out North America and the front range of Colorado. Leaf cutter bees are used by farmers to pollinate alfalfa fields. Mason bees are used in orchards for pollination services. These bees are also in decline as well and providing habitat is as simple as drilling 5/16" holes in old logs or lumber.

I have taken our leaf-cutter bee cocoons out of cold storage and will be watching them closely for a hatch. As soon as I see them start to hatch I will place cocoons in the gardens hives.  



Orchard Bee Hive split block with 5/16" slots.

               Leaf Cutter Bee Cocoons                                         Mason Bee Cocoons

Leaf Cutter Bee Cocoons on the left Mason Bee Cocoons on the right harvested from orchard bee hives in the Denver metro area.


The below link is from the Colorado State University Extention office on bee indentification.
http://www.extension.org/pages/26310/identification-of-native-bees

This is a nice booklet with lots of information on native bees
Bee Basics - An Introduction to Our Native Bees - USDA Forest ...


This booklet will take some time to read but contains 112 pages of information on our Colorado Native bees.
This is a working list of the bees of Colorado - University of Colorado 
 

This booklet contains a lot educational facts about our native bees and honey bees and there decline and ow to help them with habitat and responsable use of pesticides.
Promoting Agricultural Sustainability: Creating Habitat for Native


The below link contains several publications about native bees and is a great educational resource.
http://www.xerces.org/pollinators-mountain-region/   

The links below has some ideas on how to add beauty to your garden and provide habitat for our native bees very cool check it out.
Bee walls, habitat and nesting blocks Pdf File
http://www.studiogblog.com/garden-construction-materials/shed-other-garden-buildings/encouraging-native-bees-with-insect-walls/

The link below is a brochure is specific for Colorado planting for our native bee. Selecting Plants for Pollinators - Pollinator Partnership

 

The link below is from one of my hive hosts Arvada Colorado and contains photo's of native bees she photograghed in hear garden.
http://twentypoundtabby.blogspot.com/2012/06/native-bees-of-colorado.html

 



Photo's and some of the content about Leaf Cutter came from the Colorado State University Extention

Below a leaf cutter bee carrying a                  Leafs cut by leaf cutter bees
piece of leaf back to her nest.

         
 
Native bees are much more effective on a bee per bee basis. Example 250 orchard bees can pollinate an acre of apple trees. It would take two honey bee hives or 15,000 to 20,000 foragers to accomplish the same pollination service.

By providing back yard habitat for Orchard bees anyone can help increase their numbers.

Leafcutter Bees

by W.S. Cranshaw 1(11/06)

Quick Facts...

  • Leafcutter bees are native bees, important as pollinators.
  • Leafcutter bees are not aggressive and have a mild sting that is used only when they are handled.
  • Leafcutter bees cut the leaves of plants. The cut leaf fragments are used to form nest cells.
  • Leafcutter bees nest in soft, rotted wood or in the stems of large, pithy plants, such as roses.

Leafcutter bees are important native insects of the western United States. They use cut leaf fragments to construct their nest cells. They often are essential pollinators of wild plants. Some leafcutter bees are even semidomesticated to help produce alfalfa seed. However, their habit of leaf cutting, as well as their nesting in soft wood or plant stems, often attracts attention and concern.

Life History and Habits

Most common leafcutter bees (Megachile spp.) are approximately the size of the common honeybee, although they are somewhat darker with light bands on the abdomen. They also have different habits. Leafcutter bees are not aggressive and sting only when handled. Their sting is very mild, much less painful than that of honeybees or yellowjacket wasps.

Leafcutter bees are solitary bees, meaning that they don't produce colonies as do social insects (honeybees, yellowjackets, ants, etc.). Instead, individual female leafcutter bees do all the work of rearing. This includes digging out nesting areas, creating nest cells and providing their young with food. Adult females may live up to two months and lay some 35 to 40 eggs during this time.

Leafcutter bees nest in soft, rotted wood; thick-stemmed, pithy plants (e.g., rose); and in similar materials that the bees can easily cut through and excavate. Nest tunnels may extend several inches deep and coarse sawdust may be deposited at the entrance. This sometimes causes confusion with other wood nesting insects such as carpenter ants. However, leafcutter bees restrict their tunneling to soft, rotted wood and do not cause damage to homes or other wooden structures.

There also are concerns about leafcutter bee nesting in rose canes, excavating the pith of pruned canes. Leafcutter bees sometimes nest in the largest diameter rose canes but cause little damage because they restrict tunneling to the pith and rarely girdle cambium. Furthermore, other insects, including various hunting wasps (Pemphredon species) and small carpenter bees more commonly tunnel and nest in rose canes.

After the nest is made, the bees collect fragments of leaves to construct individual nest cells. The bees cut leaves in a distinctive manner, making a smooth semicircular cut about 3/4 inch in diameter from the edge of leaves. Although they cut many types of leaves, leafcutter bees prefer certain types, notably rose, green ash, lilac and Virginia creeper. This injury often is only a minor curiosity. However, where leafcutter bees are abundant and concentrate on cultivated plantings, the removal of leaf tissues can be damaging. Serious damage most often occurs in isolated rural plantings.

 

Leafcutter bees do not eat the cut pieces of leaves that they remove. Instead, they carry them back to the nest and use them to fashion nest cells within the previously constructed tunnels. Then they provision each leaf-lined cell with a mixture of nectar and pollen. The female lays an egg and seals the cell, producing a finished nest cell that somewhat resembles a cigar butt. A series of closely packed cells are produced in sequence. A finished nest tunnel may contain a dozen or more cells forming a tube 4 to 8 inches long. The young bees develop and remain within the cells, emerging the next season.

There are a great many parasites that act as important natural enemies of leafcutter bees. As a result, leaf cutting activity may vary widely from year to year. Parasitic bees and wasps, velvet ants and certain blister beetles are among the most important enemies of leafcutter bees and other solitary bees.

At least one species of leafcutter bee is cultivated for agricultural use in Colorado. Megachile rotundata is used to pollinate alfalfa grown for seed, a function that it does far more efficiently than honeybees. These leafcutter bees are provided with pre drilled "bee boards" that they use for nest construction. At the end of the season, the nest cells with developing bees are collected and carefully stored, to be released the subsequent season when alfalfa blooms.

                                                           Our Bee Garden.

Our bee garden is about 3000 sf includes California Blue Bell, Chinese House Flowers, Five Spot Flower, Tidy Tips Flower, and Tansy (Lacy) Phacelia Flowers. The Garden is now now coming up hope to see it in start bloom in late June and the rest of the summer.




Planting for your bees is a great way to help your bees and provide additional forage for them. Not only will this help your bees it also provides for our Native Colorado Bees as well. Along with planting a bee garden providing additonal habitat for our native is simple and inexpensive. Habitat for native bees like mason bees leaf cutter and other bees can bee as simple as drilling holes in am old log or post. There are over 800 species of native bees in Colorado most of them are pollinators and are important to our enviroment and our economy.

 By providing habitat for these bees it helps increase there numbers and are a great alternative for backyard gardeners who do not want keep honey but want to attract pollinators to there garden.

As an educational tool mason bees and leafcutter bees can be easily managed by children with adult supervision. Bees suits are not needed to work with these bees. Orchard Bee hives and observation hives can be constructed with little or no cost. Educators can find lots of great videos on youtube on these important pollinators.

The keeping of mason bees is very popular in the North East and the North West. Some of the videos I have watched shows the Orchard bee hive right next to there back door. These bees are very timid and will not defend there hive.


          
            Blue Orchard Bee                                       Horn Faced Bee





              
          Anthophora bomboides                                Honey Bee on Rose photo by Cheryl N.
                Digger Bee

Brown Belted Bumble Bee, Bombus griseocollis Photo By Cheryl N.

Photo of a Colorado Native Bee taken by Cheryl of Arvada who hosts some of our bee hives. Cheryl has a wonderful bee garden with water features and lots of different types of flowers that bloom throughout the spring and summer.

                                   General Information

Crop Pollination & Pollinator Conservation for Farmers

 

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