Watch a Leafcutter Bee Emerge From Its 'Bee-Rito'

A leafcutter bee emerges from its leaf nest. Emily Doorish/Center for Biological Diversity/Facebook

Leafcutter bees are a solitary family of bees. In fact, each female is a queen, and she does all the work: Gathering pollen, laying the eggs, building the nests. Given this, leafcutters have a reputation for being rather gentle; they'd be too stressed out otherwise, trying to do all those tasks and defend the nest! Like mason bees, which belong to the same family as leafcutters, they construct their nests from materials found in nature. Leafcutters carve out pieces of leaves in which to lay their eggs, favoring hollowed out, above-ground cavities, or burrows in the ground.

Leafcutters lay their eggs in long columns of cells, with each cell walled off from the next. Inside each cell, you'll find exactly what you see in the video above: A rolled up leaf filled with pollen and sometimes nectar. An egg is laid atop this "bee-rito" and the female caps it to protect the egg. A larva eventually hatches and consumes the food. From here, the larva will spin a cocoon and pupate inside the leaf.

The video footage captures the bee emerging as a full adult, rubbing off the remains of its cocoon and popping open the cap of the nesting leaf. It's a decidedly adorable sight.

A female leafcutter bee cuts away at a leaf
Female leafcutters do all the work, including constructing the nests. Bernhard Plank/Wikimedia Commons

Males are often smaller than females, and they die shortly after they mate with new females that have hatched. The newly hatched females then repeat the process their mother just completed. Males live for about one or two weeks; females live for up to two months.

The leafcutter genus of bees, Megachile, is large and diverse. Some 1,500 species are recognized, and North America has a number of native species. According to the Center for Biological Diversity, Florida alone has 63 species. The footage above shows a leafcutter bee in the United Kingdom.