Belongs to: solitary bees

Wool carder bee Anthidium manicatum

Best time to see: mid May to mid Sep

Key facts

A medium-sized carder bee with yellow spots and yellow legs; solitary, i.e. builds a nest just for its own young

Widespread in southern England and Wales, but may be declining

Often nests or forages in gardens, favouring plants with hairy leaves such as Lamb's Ears (Stachys byzantina)


Pale yellow legs are conspicuous, also yellow spots on thorax

Males are much larger than females, with a strong darting flight very like hoverflies; wingspan 20mm, body up to 17mm

Males patrol patches of favoured plants, such as lamb's ear or betony, mating with females and driving away other insects


Lays eggs in existing holes in wood or masonry, lining and plugging them with hairs that it combs from plants

Builds a series of cells with an egg and some pollen and nectar in each

After hatching, the young bees eat the food left for them, then dig their way out of the nest hole

© Tony Gunton