I am super excited to share these photos with you today! I struggled all summer to get a photo of a leaf cutter bee cutting some of the petals off my partridge peas, and I finally managed it! In order to get these photos, I had to memorize the sound of the bee’s flight. They are SO FAST. The whole process of cutting off a section of petal only takes them a couple of moments and then they are gone.
Leaf cutter bees usually cut…well, leaves. But some species will occasionally make their nests out of flower petals. Early in the summer, I noticed tell tale circular cuts out of the delicate corollas of one of my experimental plant species (Chamaecrista fasciculata). I tried everything to get photos of them, even borrowing time lapse cameras from a friend and setting them up to take photos every 15 seconds from dawn til dusk. (I can share some of those later because I did catch some cool things…but no leaf cutter bees.)
And of course, it wasn’t until the very end of summer, when I had lost all hope and was taking down my experiment…that I finally had the chance to get a photo.
So, while I was doing a destructive census of my experiment (cutting down all above ground biomass), I would keep an ear out for that buzz. And when I heard it, I leapt to my feet, grabbed my camera (kept near at hand) and tried to snap as many photos as I could. I only had a couple of chances, so the adrenaline was on my side!
She’s actually flying away with a petal here, but it is very difficult to see
For some reason, I think this is adorable
I think she got confused and started cutting another petal but whatever that’s a few more seconds for me to take photos!
Pretty flower, pretty bee…I can only imagine how pretty their nests are, all made out of satiny yellow petals. But I have no idea how to find one!