Originally not native to North America, the wool carder bee was introduced from Europe. This solitary bee has creamy-yellow spots on its abdomen and also yellow markings on its legs and face. The male bees are larger than the females and have a light coloured tuft of hair at the front of their face. The bees also have three spikes at the end of their abdomen and males will use them aggressively. They are known to be able to kill honeybees with their violent attacks.
The bee gets its name from the female’s unusual nesting habits. Similar to carding wool, the female will scrape or comb off plant hairs, from plants like the woolly lamb ear. She will put the “wool” into a ball and fly back to her nest, carrying the ball under her body.
Wool carder bees nest in pre-existing cavities, in places like the ground, wood or walls. The female lines her nest with the collected plant hairs and proceeds to lay her eggs in individual cells with enough pollen to feed hatched larvae. The new adults will emerge in the summer months.
Male wool carder bees are very aggressive and territorial. They will patrol an area, looking for females and chasing other nectar-seeking insects away. If males spot a female they will quickly descend upon her and aggressively try to mate.
In terms of pollination, wool carder bees have long tongues and the females have pollen-collecting hairs in the underside of their abdomen. They can collect pollen and therefore transfer it from flower to flower as the bees forage for nectar.