European wool-carder bee (Anthidium manicatum) is a highly conspicuous bee of gardens and disturbed habitats. A. manicatum is stocky, with bold black-and-yellow patterning along the abdomen and yellow legs. Large males defend territories by patrolling patches of flowers and using abdominal spines to assault intruders of similar size like honey bees and bumble bees. Females can be seen scraping, or carding, trichomes off of plant leaves to line their nests, which is where they get their name. A. manicatum is exotic in North America.
One, possibly two, generations per year. A. manicatum is active from late May through August.
Widespread and abundant. Exotic in North America, first reported from Ithaca, New York, in 1963, and has since spread rapidly across the continent.
Size ≈ honey bee
Males: larger than female with yellow marked face, bold black-and-yellow patterning across abdomen. Abdomen rimmed in fringe of orange hairs. Tip of the abdomen with five spines used for defending patches of flowers from intruders, yellow legs. Often seen hovering around flowers as they patrol their territory.
Females: similar to male, but smaller with thick brush of white scopal hairs underneath abdomen. Does not patrol or hover in front of flowers like males.
- Anthidium oblongatum is smaller with bright green eyes, orange tegulae, and an affinity for legumes.
- Pseudoanthidium nanum, which also occurs in disturbed habitats, is much smaller, has paler (cream-colored) markings that contrast with bright-orange legs, and is associated with Asteraceae (such as knapweeds).
Females nest in above-ground cavities including hollow stems, holes in cement walls, bee hotels, dead wood. Nests are lined with cottony trichomes scraped from plants like lamb’s ear (Stachys byzantina), dusty miller (Jacobaea maritima), and mullein (Verbascum). Nests may be sealed with wood chips, masticated leaves, pebbles, or other detritus.
Highly generalized diet. Often seen nectaring on mints Lamicaeae, including many exotic garden herbs like Salvia, Nepeta, Origanum, and Agastache, and tubular flowers like foxglove (Digitalis) and penstemons (Penstemon). A. manicatum is not known to be an important crop pollinator.
Not known to be associated with any parasite species in its introduced range in North America.
Gibbs, J., & Sheffield, C. S. 2009. Rapid range expansion of the wool-carder bee, Anthidium manicatum (Linnaeus)(Hymenoptera: Megachilidae), in North America. J. Kans. Entomol. Soc. 82: 21-29.
Page last updated:
January 17, 2023