A few years ago, I learned about the leaf cutter bees and how they make like a jigsaw and cut nearly perfect circles out of the leaves of some garden plants.I happened to be in the right place at the right time and saw one land, quickly cut a piece of leaf and fly off with it. It was the coolest thing ever, I have to say.
I did some some research and found out what they were.
They don't eat the pieces of leaves they cut; they use them to line their nests.
Leaf cutter bees are solitary bees, slightly smaller than a honeybee, and only sting when handled. Their sting is much less painful than that of a honeybee, to which I can personally testify. I'm allergic to bee stings, but being stung by a leaf cutter bee only gives me a slight bump. I get far more reaction to a mosquito bite than these stings. Oh, it hurts, to be sure, but only for a minute or so.
They use the leaves in their nests, which they make in rotting wood or the stems of soft wood plants. They rarely hurt the plants where they make their nests, because they burrow past the cambium layer, further inside. My personal feeling about them is to leave them alone and accept the holey leaves, because they are important pollinators.
This year, I noticed they're picking on my green beans! Or maybe it's the yellow wax ones they prefer. We planted our beans in a hurry a few weeks ago, because we wanted to get them in before an approaching rainstorm. There are three different varieties and in our hurry, I didn't label the rows. I figure we'll know what they are when they start producing the beans.
The leaf cutters have done a number on just one row of beans and have left the other rows alone! They seem to like the lighter foliage on one of the rows, which I suspect are the yellow wax beans, given to me by my Soil Sister, Lisa, from Get in the Garden. Time will tell!
Check out this 7-second YouTube video that someone shot of a leaf cutter bee in action!
Photo of leaf cutter bee from Maggie Frankum via InsectPix.net