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Sunday, July 22, 2012

European Wool Carder Bee

A fat furry European wool carder bee, Anthidium manicatum.  Click on the photo to enlarge. 
The European wool carder bee was introduced to the United States accidentally from Europe before 1963, when it was found in New York State. Since then it has thrived and spread across the country and southern Canada. I saw this one sitting on a leaf in Brooklyn Bridge Park -- the first I have seen.

The wool carder bee gets its name from how the female collects nesting material: she scrapes plant hairs from the surfaces of fuzzy leaves. Carding is one of those words that everyone used to know and few now do. It means to comb and disentangle wool or other fibers. She carries the bundles of collected or "carded" nursery wool under her body to the nesting site. Standing in a garden some place far from the noise of New York City you can actually hear the sound of a female wool carder scraping leaves.

There are lots of different kinds of bees out there! If you take time to stand by a patch of blossoming wildflowers on a sunny day you may be amazed at how many different colorful insects you can see, including big fuzzy bees at work.


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