wool carder bee

Wool Carder Bee

I promise I'm not a wasp!

Despite their neon-bright appearance of yellow and black markings and loud noise, wool carder bees are not wasps. The Gooden's Nomad Bee is another bee that gets mistaken for a wasp due to its wasp-like features and bright orange/yellow legs.

So, How Can You Recognise Them?

Wool carder bees also have unique yellow features on their faces. Their sleek, long wings and rounded abdomens with yellow spots add to their intriguing appearance. Interestingly, their rounded abdomens sometimes reflect their spider friends more than a wasp, making them even more fascinating.

How to recognise a Wool Carder BeeHow to recognise a Wool Carder Bee

Where Can You Find Wool Carder Bees?

Wool carder bees prefer to nest in hollow stems, dead wood, and holes in walls. They also use artificial structures such as bee hotels.. Creating these types of habitats in your garden can attract wool carder bees and provide them with safe nesting spaces. Their population peaks around June-July and can be seen through the South of the UK from late May to early August.

Now it's time for some top facts to get you buzzing...

Fun Facts

  • Carder wool bees get their name from the females "carding" or scraping fibres from the plants they find. Female carder bees are seen with silver bundles of plant fibres, like cobweb balls. She uses this to make a soft space in the nest to care for her young bees.
  • Chivalry is not dead in their bee world since they fiercely protect their female counterparts. (You may get chased if you annoy this overly assertive and protective bee!).
  • Male carder bees cannot sting but have spikes on their tails to deter potential threats. They are known for being very territorial, and these spikes either scare or can squish any other insect that provokes them. They even tackle male bees bigger than themselves to protect their territory. They are considered the "likeable bullies" of the insect world.
  • They are among the few species that have larger males than females.
  • Wool carder males are also known for their unique movements. They move with a rapid, darting motion, which is quite different from the typical flight pattern of bees. This behaviour is part of their territorial defence strategy, allowing them to quickly respond to any potential threats.

What Can We Do to Help Them Thrive?

Here are 3 simple steps you can do to get involved in supporting our wool carder bee friends:

  • 1) DIY or buy a bee hotel to help them nest safely.
  • 2) Leave dead wood in your garden as they may nest in beetle holes.
  • 3) Planting specific types of fuzzy-leaved plants can attract wool carder bees. Some examples include Lamb's Ear, Rose Campion, and Great Mullein. These plants provide the females with the materials they need to make their cosy beds, and their fuzzy leaves offer a soft surface for the bees to rest on.

Wool Carder Bee on the fuzzy leaved Lamb's ear plantWool Carder Bee on the fuzzy leaved Lamb's ear plant

Please consider sharing this information with others who might be interested in supporting wool carder bees. You can also learn more about wool carder bees and many others by watching My Garden of a Thousand Bees by wildlife filmmaker Martin Dohrn.

Together, we can make a difference in their conservation and their hard work of pollinating planet Earth!

We are grateful to have you as part of our bee-saving community!

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