Temporal range: Middle Eocene – recent, 45–0 Ma
Anthidium manicatum male.jpg
Male European wool carder bee, Anthidium manicatum
Scientific classification edit


A leaf-cutter bee showing abdominal scopa
Leaves showing cuts by a leafcutter bee

Megachilidae is a cosmopolitan family of mostly solitary bees whose pollen-carrying structure (called a scopa) is restricted to the ventral surface of the abdomen (rather than mostly or exclusively on the hind legs as in other bee families). Megachilid genera are most commonly known as mason bees and leafcutter bees, reflecting the materials from which they build their nest cells (soil or leaves, respectively); a few collect plant or animal hairs and fibers, and are called carder bees, while others use plant resins in nest construction and are correspondingly called resin bees. All species feed on nectar and pollen, but a few are kleptoparasites (informally called "cuckoo bees"), feeding on pollen collected by other megachilid bees. Parasitic species do not possess scopae. The motion of Megachilidae in the reproductive structures of flowers is energetic and swimming-like; this agitation releases large amounts of pollen.


Nonparasitic species


The lifecycle of nonparasitic Megachilidae is typically that nests are built, divided into cells. Each cell receives a supply of food (pollen or a pollen/nectar mix) and an egg; after finding a suitable spot (often near where she emerged), a female starts building a first cell, stocks it, and oviposits. She builds a wall that separates the completed cell from the next one. The larva hatches from the egg and consumes the food supply. After moulting a few times, it spins a cocoon and pupates. It emerges from the nest as an adult. Males die shortly after mating, but females survive for another few weeks, during which they build new nests.

Nests are often built in natural or artificial cavities. Some embed individual cells in a mass of clay or resin attached to a wall, rock surface, or plant stem. Nest cavities are often linear, for example in hollow plant stems, but not always (snail shells are used by some Osmia, and some species readily use irregular cavities).

Parasitic species

Some genera of megachilids are brood parasites, so have no ventral scopa (e.g. Stelis and Coelioxys). They often parasitize related taxa. They typically enter the nest before it is sealed and lay their eggs in a cell. After hatching, the parasite larva kills the host larva, unless the female parasite has already done so, and then consumes the provisions. Parasitic species are of equal size or smaller than their victims. In 1921, the journal American Museum Novitates published a preliminary report on parasitic megachilid bees of the western United States.[1]

Other Languages
العربية: نحل قارض
català: Megaquílid
Cebuano: Megachilidae
Deutsch: Megachilidae
español: Megachilidae
euskara: Megachilidae
français: Megachilidae
한국어: 가위벌과
italiano: Megachilidae
Кыргызча: Мегахилидалар
Nederlands: Megachilidae
русский: Мегахилиды
svenska: Buksamlarbin
українська: Мегахиліди
Winaray: Megachilidae
中文: 切叶蜂科