Leaf cutter bees are solitary bees from the family Megachilidae. Common to North America our resident seems to be native to Bermuda, meaning it got here on its own. To the naked eye there is little difference between our Leaf Cutter bee and the honey bee. The leaf cutter is somewhat larger and its abdomen is more white and black opposed to yellow and black. The real difference is in its life cycle. They do not create a hive with a queen and workers, they do not work together for a common cause, and they do not exhibit the aggressive behavior toward someone or some animal that ventures too close. Given their solitary nature they might not be so susceptible to things like the varroa mite that is devetating the communal Honey Bee.
The now very rare Bermuda leaf was observed in as early as 1928 making circular incisions in rose leaves and flying these back to nest in Bermuda stone walls (Ogilvie 1928). However it seems that since that time the leaf cutter bees is no longer present on main islands; only surviving in and around Nonsuch, Island. It has been seen in late spring cutting the soft leaves of the native Jamaica dogwood, Dodonaea viscose to line its burrows and gathering pollen from the flowers of the Sea Ox Eye.
One of the reasons they are efficient pollinators is their frequency of visits to plants, but this is because they are extremely inefficient at gathering pollen; compared to all other bee families, megachilids require on average nearly 10 times as many trips to flowers to gather sufficient resources to provision a single brood cell.
So between May – June every year look out what looks like a part of a leaf blowing sideways in the Castle Harbour Area. If you have observed these very distinctive insects please contact Drew Pettit at email@example.com report a sighting.