Anthidium / carder Bee
Anthidium manicatum mating pair © Rollin Coville
Male Anthidium manicatum nectaring in Sacramento, CA. © Rollin Coville
Anthidium maculosum male resting. © Rollin Coville
Common Name: Carder Bee
Both males and females have black or brown abdomens, decorated with varying patterns of striking yellow or white markings. Males are usually slightly larger than females.
The female carries pollen in special hairs on the underside of her abdomen.
Males are extremely territorial, spending most of the day patrolling and vigorously guarding a patch of flowers in hopes of attracting potential female mates. These males are easy to recognize by their bold markings and hovering, darting and chasing maneuvers. When other bees or insects attempt to land on a flower in an established territory, the Anthidium male will force the intruder off the flower and drive it out of his domain.
The female “cards” the fibers from hairy or wooly plant stems, such as Stachys byzantina (Lamb's-ear) to use in constructing her nest, hence the name “Carder Bee,”.
Although introduced from Europe over the past decade, one noticeable species, Anthidium manicatum, is now a common visitor to North American gardens. A. manicatum has become highly successful where naturalized, in some situations, usurping the territory of native Anthidium species. Part of its success may be due to the fact that the male of Anthidium manicatum is the most aggressive territorial bee species known. And after just a few minutes of observing him on patrol, it is easy to see how he has earned his reputation!
Size: Approximately 1/2 to 3/4 inch long, depending on species.
A widespread genus of 188 species, represented in the Americas, Eurasia and Africa. In North America, the greatest abundance of species occurrs in deserts of the Southwest.
Number of species in North America
Nests in pre-formed cavities in wood, hollow plant stems or other suitable material; will also use wood nesting blocks.
Additional Flowers Visited in Natural Areas
Monardella (coyote mint)