Leafcutter Bee

Scientific Name: Megachile centuncularis

Leafcutter Bee

Species: Leafcutter Bee (Bee – Solitary)

The Megachile centuncularis, commonly known as the Patchwork Leafcutter Bee, belongs to the family Megachilidae. This species was first described by the Swedish scientist, Carl Linnaeus, in 1758.

Conservation Status:

Thankfully, the Patchwork Leafcutter Bees are not considered rare or threatened in the UK.


Leafcutter Bees are industrious pollinators known for their unique ‘leaf-cutting’ behaviour to create ‘nest cells’ for their offspring. They meticulously cut out circular leaf pieces from plants to construct their nests.

How to Identify:

Identifying bees can be difficult, however, Megachile centunculari bees look similar to a dark honey bee, but their ‘orange abdomen’ underside is a key identifying feature.

Look for a medium-sized bee (10-12mm). They favour flowers from the ‘Asteraceae’ family (Thistles, Knapweed etc..) and may be seen carrying ‘green leaf discs’ while flying.


Megachile centuncularis like sunny locations and utilise existing holes and cavities in ‘dead wood’ or ‘old walls’ and manmade structures like window frames, air-bricks and solitary bee hotels. They ‘line’ their nests with cut-leaf pieces.

When to See:

Active from mid-June to mid-August, with peak activity in July, you can spot them buzzing around flowers, especially those from the ‘Thistle’ and ‘Pea families.


Widespread across the northern hemisphere, the Leafcutter Bee is found in both North America and Eurasia. In Europe, (including the UK) their range stretches from Scandinavia to the south.


Being adaptable bees, the Megachile centunculari bee thrives in various habitats, including gardens, parks, coastlines, and urban areas.

Did You Know Fact:

If you see a bee flying on a green disc in the air, it’s probably a female leaf-cutter bee. These bees gather pieces of leaves, chew them into a pulp, and mix them with saliva to build cells for their offspring.

In each cell, the female bee lays an egg and supplies it with pollen and nectar for food. After that, she seals the cell and moves on to the next one, eventually sealing the entire cavity with more leaf pulp. The offspring develop over winter and come out the next year.