Comprehensive Description

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Megachilidae (Leaf-Cutting Bees)
The long-tongued bees in this family usually cut portions of leaves or petals as a construction material for their nests. The leaves may be used to create partitions between brood cells, to line the outer walls of the nests, or they may be chewed to create a masonry material to plug any holes in the nest. Some tribes of this family are parasitic on other Leaf-Cutting bees. Important tribes are the following: Anthidini (Carder Bees): This small tribe includes the Anthidium spp. Many species in this tribe use leaf down from such plants as Common Mullein to create a water-resistant lining for their nests. They nest in various cavities, including tunnels of insect-boring insects, hollow stems of shrubs, abandoned nests of other bees and wasps, etc. Megachilini (Large Leaf-Cutters): This includes many Megachile spp., which are among the largest Leaf-Cutters. They tend to visit the larger flowers in the Bean and Aster families, and many other flowers as well. This tribe is important in the pollination of many prairie wildflowers. They resemble bumblebees, but are somewhat smaller. Osmiini (Small Leaf-Cutters, Mason Bees): These small bees have surprisingly long tongues and nest in pre-existing cavities. They chew leaves to create masonry material for their nests. Mason bees are most common in the spring and often visit the flowering shrubs and small trees in the Rose family (including fruit trees in orchards). Stelidini and Coelioxini (Cuckoo Bees): These tribes include Stelis and Coelioxys spp., respectively. They are brood parasites on other Leaf-Cutting bees. The species from the latter tribe are more common visitors of prairie wildflowers than the former. Trypetini (Leaf-Cutters): This includes the Heriades spp., one of which, Heriades carinatum, is known as the "Onion Bee." They are not common visitors of wildflowers.



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