Posts Tagged: European wool carder bee
During the day, European wool carder bees (so named because the females collect or "card" plant fuzz for their nests) forage on our catmint and lamb's ear.
These bees, Anthidium manicatum, are about the size of a honey bee, but with striking yellow and black markings. From Europe and fairly new to the United States, they became established in New York in 1963, and then began spreading west. Eventually this exotic species made its way to California. Bee scientists first identified it in California (Sunnyvale) in 2007.
"The females nest in convenient cavities such as old beetle holes and hollow stems," according native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor entomology at UC Davis. Its plant preferences include lamb’s ear (Stachys byzantine, in the mint family Lamiaceae), a perennial grown for its fuzzy, silvery gray-green foliage.
At night, the females return to their nests. But for the boys, it's the boys' night out.
The "boy bees," as Thorp calls them, "sleep wherever they can."
Every night and early morning, we see a male sleeping inside one of our native bee condos. This particular condo, located several feet above our catmint patch, is drilled with "large" holes to accommodate the blue orchard bee (Osmia), a mason bee. The holes really aren't that large, but they are compared to our bee condo for the smaller leafcutting bees.
For awhile, our mason bee condo drew nothing but earwigs. Not one blue orchard bee (BOB).
Now we have a exotic species sleeping in a native bee condo.
What a treat! At least we have one tenant!
When we took his picture in the early morning, the European wool carder bee didn't budge. Guess he's saving his energy to chase the girls around in the catmint patch.
This bee condo, meant for blue orchard bees, is attracting a European wool carder bee, Anthidium manicatum. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Close-up of a sleeping European wool carder bee, Anthidium manicatum. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
European wool carder bee, Anthidium manicatum, in flight, heading for lavender. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Whether it's coming or going, you notice this pollinator's presence.
The European wool carder bee (Anthidium manicatum), so named because the female collects or cards "plant hairs" or "plant fuzz" to line her nest, is strikingly beautiful.
The bee is mostly black and yellow. The females, about the size of a worker honey bee, range in body length from 11 to 13 millimeters, while the males are 14 to 17 mm.
The males are very territorial. They put the "terror" in territorial. We see them hovering over the lavender in our yard and then bodyslamming honey bees. This behavior results in very skittish honey bees; no wonder honey bees don't linger on the blossoms long when their cousins show up!
The European wool carder bee, as its name implies, is a non-native. But so, too, are the honey bees, which European colonists brought to America in 1622.
The wool carder bee, according to research entomologist Tom Zavortink of the Bohart Museum of Entomology at UC Davis, was accidentally “introduced into New York state, presumably from Europe, before 1963.” It was not purposefully introduced to pollinate alfalfa, as some reports allege, he said.
Writing in a 2008 edition of the Pan-Pacific Entomologist, Zavortink and fellow entomologist Sandra Shanks, now of Port Townsend, Wash., pointed out that several papers “have documented its spread from neighboring areas in the northeastern United States and southern Canada” and that the species has since crossed the country. It was confirmed in Colorado in 2005, Missouri in 2006, and Maine, Michigan, Maryland and California (Sunnyvale) in 2007, the entomologists wrote.
Records show it was first collected in Davis on July 26, 2007.
The wool carder bee nests in convenient cavities such as old beetle holes and hollow stems, according native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor entomology at UC Davis. Its plant preferences include lamb’s ear (Stachys byzantine, in the mint family Lamiaceae), a perennial grown for its fuzzy, silvery gray-green foliage. It’s also been collected in the figwort/snapdragon family (Scrophulariacae) and the pea and bean family (Fabaceae), according to the Zavortink-Shanks research.
And in our yard, it seems to prefer three plants: lamb's ear, catmint, and lavender.
Male European wool carder bee is very territorial. Front, lavender blossoms. Back: pomegranate blossoms.(Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey
European wool carder bee nectaring lavender. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
European wool carder bee is strikingly beautiful. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)