At first glance, the Wool Carder Bee, Anthidium manicatum, could easily be mistaken for a wasp – see the striking yellow and black markings (- and see my other page concerning some of the challenges of bee identification).
I have actually included a patch of possibly one of its favoured plants – Lamb’s Ear - Stachys byzantina, in my garden and I’m keeping my fingers crossed I’ll see them this year. Why is this such an excellent plant for this species? Because both nectar and plant hairs are provided.
This fantastic photograph shows this bee species on this very plant - courtesy of Green Thumb Garden (website coming soon, and not to be confused with the lawn care company!).
The Wool Carder Bee is so-called, because it collects or ‘cards’ the hairs from plants, and uses these to line their egg cells. It actually belongs to the same family as the Leaf cutter bee and the Mason bee– i.e. Megachilidae – (see types of bees).
They create their nests in holes, hollow stems and crevices, similar to leafcutter bees and mason bees.
In these nests, they raise a single generation of offspring each year.
The males are larger than the females. Males are territorial and protective of their chosen patches of flowers and will defend them from other insects!
Look out them hovering or ‘darting’ about around flowers. Wool carder bees are attracted to a large variety of flowers for general foraging, as well as specific plants for their hairs. Examples of plants you could include in your garden to attract them include, Globe thistle, members of the pea family, lavender, woundworts, yarrow, great mullein (Verbascum), Sempervivums, brambles, and mints.
More information about solitary bees.Go from Wool Carder Bee to Home Page
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