European Wool Carder Bee

Scientific Name: Anthidium manicatum

Leafcutter Bee

Species: European Wool Carder Bee (Bee – Solitary)

The European Wool Carder Bee (anthidium manicatum), also known as the Large Wool Bee, is a solitary bee native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa. It’s been accidentally introduced to North America and South America, where it can be an invasive species of the family Megachilidae

Conservation Status:

While not globally endangered, they can be considered invasive in regions outside their native Europe, Asia, and North Africa, potentially disrupting native pollinator populations.


Nicknamed for their wool-collecting behaviour, these bees are active pollinators, but the males are known for their territoriality, aggressively defending patches of flowers to attract mates.

How to Identify:

Body colour and often size are positive ways to identify bees. These medium-sized bees are 11-17mm long, roughly the size of a honey bee. Look for a black body with a pattern of yellow spots on the abdomen’s sides and tip. Males are larger and hairier than females, with longer leg hairs and prominent yellow markings.


The Wool Carder Bee (Anthidium manicatum) is a cavity-nesting species, often utilising pre-existing holes in wood or stems for nesting.

These bees are also known for the females’ distinctive behaviour of collecting ‘plant hairs’ that they gather by scraping them from ‘fuzzy-leaved’ plants, and then by ‘carding’ (resembling the action of a wool carder’s tool.) them, hence the name, to create a cosy and protective environment for her offspring.

When to See:

Wool Carder Bees are active during the warmer months, typically late May to early August. You’re most likely to spot them in gardens and flowerbeds, buzzing around flowers.


Originally native to Europe and parts of Asia, the ‘European Wool Carder Bee’ has been introduced to other regions in the world. They’ve been accidentally introduced to North America where their distribution continues to expand, and they can now be found in various other parts of the world, namely South America, New Zealand, and the Canary Islands.


You will find these bees in gardens, flowerbeds, meadows, and other areas with flowering plants. They particularly favour plants with soft, fuzzy leaves like lamb’s ear, which provides them with ideal nesting material.

Did You Know Fact:

Male Wool Carder Bees are known for their aggressive territorial behaviour. They fiercely guard patches of flowers, chasing away competitors – both other male bees and even different insect species!

Unlike other Megachilidae bees, Wool Carder Bees don’t cut leaves or petals for their nests. They strictly specialise in collecting soft plant fuzz!