Currently viewing the category: "Wool Carder Bees"
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Subject: Small yellow and black bees in my bathroom
Location: Northeast Ohio
August 5, 2016 11:01 am
Hi bugman,
We are in the suburbs of Akron, Ohio, near Cuyahoga Valley National Park. We’ve had several very small bees come in through our bathroom exhaust fan. They are 1 cm long and have broken yellow stripes across their back. Most of them are dead by the time we Find them on the bathroom floor, but we have relocated 2 living bees back to the great outdoors. Those 2 seemed very docile. I’m an environmental educator but I can’t find this little bee in my guides or in my memory banks. Can you help me identify them please?
Signature: Cuyahoga Claudia

European Wool Carder Bee

European Wool Carder Bee

Dear Cuyahoga Claudia,
This is an introduced European Wool Carder Bee,
Anthidium manicatum, which you can verify by comparing your images to images of living individuals on BugGuide.  According to BugGuide:  “Females collect “wool” from downy plants such as Lamb’s Ears to line their nest cavities” and “Introduced from Europe before 1963; spreading throughout NE. & W. NA”.  The fact that it is an imported species may account for its lack of inclusion in guide books.

European Wool Carder Bee

European Wool Carder Bee

Thank you so much! I came across a picture of a wool carder bee shortly after I sent in my message and thought it was the closest I had seen, but I still wasn’t sure. I hope they stop flinging themselves to their death through my exhaust fan- they’re beautiful little bees!
Thanks again,
Claudia

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Subject: Wool Carder Bee
Location: Royal Oak, Michigan
September 2, 2013 6:27 pm
Dear Bugman,
Once again, your site has served as a valuable resource in my ’backyard bugging’. Today I came across what appears to be a wool carder bee, as submitted by previous guests here. I did observe some very aggressive behavior by this fellow as he pounced on the contentedly grazing bees on my giant hyssop. BugGuide says ”they visit garden flowers and weeds preferring blue flowers that have long throats”, so this plant species fits right in. I say it is a ”he” as a previous poster had pointed out that there are three rasps at the end of the abdomen, however I found here (http://www.bwars.com/index.php?q=content/beginners-bees-and-wasps-anthidium-manicatum) that there are actually 5 rasps, the other two higher up the abdomen on either side which can be seen in photo #2 if you look very closely. Thanks again for providing such a fantastic site – it has really helped me get a jumping off point for doing more investigating on my own.
Signature: DaleShannon

Wool Carder Bee

Wool Carder Bee

Hi Dale,
Thanks for sending in your photos of a male Wool Carder Bee and also for providing us with information from your research.  This University of California Newsroom article also has some interesting information.

Male Wool Carder Bee showing abdominal spikes

Male Wool Carder Bee showing abdominal spikes

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Subject: Unknown bee/flry
Location: Near Prescott, Ontario on the St. Lawrence River
July 7, 2013 1:25 pm
On July 1st I noticed a insect flying around my flowers that I’ve never seen before. It looked like a honey bee but it had a wider abdomen and rather than stripes, it had yellow ”blocks” down each side of the abdomen. It was about the size of a bumblebee. It was hanging around the salvia plant but it didn’t act like a regular bee. It kept landing on leaves and just sitting there or it would land on a flower, briefly walk a few steps and then take off again. It didn’t seem to be collecting nectar like bees do. With so many invasive insects around, I was concerned. This salvia plant is next to my mulberry tree. So I grabbed my camera and took several pictures. Sometimes it would sit like this with it’s wings open but other times it would sit with it’s wings closed over it’s back just like a bee.
Signature: Joan

European Wool Carder Bee

European Wool Carder Bee

Hi Joan,
This is a non-native European Wool Carder Bee, Anthidium manicatum, and the jury is still out on if this is considered an invasive species or merely one that is not native, but does not significantly, negatively impact our New World ecosystems.  We will do additional research.  Meanwhile, BugGuide has some information.

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Could you help me identify this bee?
Location: Colorado Springs CO
June 30, 2011 10:34 am
I grow a lot of flowers to attract bees. I was hoping you could identify this one for me.
Signature: ?

European Wool Carder Bee

Dear ?,
You submitted two different species.  One is a Longhorned Bee and the second is the one we are really interested in posting, a European Wool Carder Bee
, Anthidium manicatum.  This introduced species is only represented on our site with two postings from 2006.  According to BugGuide:  “Females collect ‘wool’ from downy plants such as Lamb’s Ears to line their nest cavities” and “Males defend their territory very aggressively not only against other males but also against other flower visitors.”

Thank you for your response. Sorry I miss understood the “how to address the letter. My name is Eva. That is very interesting to see that the European Wool Bee has only been represented on your site so few times. I did submit a photo to the facebook site. Feel free to use the photos if needed. Best wishes, Eva

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Male Wool Carder Bee
Hi,
I often refer to your website to identify a bug (and have had success with a few I’d been looking for for a year or two at least), and often out of sheer curiosity. I read the post about the Wool Carder Bee recently and thought it sounded cool and decided to keep an eye out for them… Strangely, I saw one on our Bee Balm Flower the next day and took these shots (you can clearly see the spikes on the one from behind). This one is male – the female was nearby but didn’t land within range for a clear shot (no zoom OR macro lens). Hope you like ’em. Keep up the good work!
SJ (Ontario)

Dear SJ,
Like them? We love them. We are so honored that you are allowing us to post your most excellent photos of a male Wool Carder Bee, Anthidium manicatum. We are also providing a link to a Wool Carder Bee site that states: “How common is the Wool Carder Bee? The Wool Carder Bee is quite an uncommon bee, but it is particularly associated with gardens. There has been a dramatic decline in the numbers of most species of bee in the wider countryside. Intensive agriculture leaves little opportunity for wild bees to thrive, and nowadays many bee species are more common in gardens than elsewhere! A sad reflection on the state of our countryside’s wildlife.”

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lost wool carder bee-mail
Dear Bugfolks–
Greetings from St. Louis, Missouri. Way back on June 23d, I sent you guys an e-mail about wool carder bees, but I’m guessing it either never got to you or got lost in WTB’s server upheaval shortly thereafter. So. I’ma try again. In May, I noticed a bee I had never seen before acting very territorial–chasing other bees and hoverflies away from all the patches of lamb’s ear on my front slope. Searching Missouri bees and North American bees online turned up no matches. “Hm,” thinks I, “Perhaps an exotic?” A website from the UK had pics of my guy listed as Anthidium manicatum, commonly known as the wool carder bee after the habit of the female of gathering fibers from furry-leaved plants to line its nest. Searching the scientific name turned up information regarding its introduction into the U.S., including a study by a team from Ohio State published in 2002 documenting expansion of its range westward; at that time, it wasn’t believed to have made it to St. Louis yet. I tried to get in touch with the study’s authors, and eventually contacted Dr. Randy Mitchell who said, “Yeah, that sure looks like A. manicatum,” and asked me to send specimens, but by that time, the lamb’s ear was done blooming and my little A. manicatum (assuming that ID is correct) community defunct for the season. Sigh. The timing on this identification endeavor has been entirely off. Anyway, I didn’t see A. manicatum or any of its Anthidium relatives on your site (WTB was the first site I checked in IDing my mystery bee), so I’m attaching four pictures that you’re welcome to use however you like. The first and second are male and female wool carders at rest. The third is tragically blurry, I know, of the male in flight, showing (if you look closely at the back end of the abdomen) the three spikes he uses to savage other bees when they don’t take a gentle hint and leave (I saw him do this! Wow!). The fourth is of a lamb’s ear leaf which the female has been “carding”: she has little scissor-like bits on her mouth with which she clips off the fibers; I watched her do this and then gather up in a ball and carry it back to her nest (in this case, a cavity in a large rock on my front slope, which is now neatly packed full of “wool” and, one assumes, eggs and food). Sorry this is so danged long; watching the activities of this bee community all spring was fascinating, and so I tend to blather on about it. I really appreciate your site and have been addicted to it ever since I used it to ID a Megarhyssa atrata which came to visit me in my kitchen; you set my mind at rest that I wasn’t halucinating GIANT SIX INCH WASPS!
Sincerely,
patty d. kocot

male Wool Carder Beefemale Wool Carder Bee


Dear Patty,
We are so sorry to have lost your original email and are thrilled you have resent it. We are happy to have received your photos. Your letter and all the research is absolutely amazing. Thank you for sharing this wonderful information with our readership.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination