My first wool carder bee

written Jan 14, 2014 • by Jon Sullivan • Category: Wild Changes

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Today I saw a wood carder bee in our garden, the first one I have ever seen (I thought I saw one in a neighbours’ garden earlier this summer but it flew off before I could get a close look at it.) The species is a northern hemisphere bee species new to New Zealand. It was first seen in Nelson and Napier in 2006 and Auckland in 2008. It has been recorded recently in Christchurch by others but this is the first one I’ve seen.

wool carder bee
The first wool carder bee (Anthidium manicatum) I have ever seen, in our Cashmere garden, Christchurch (see the observation on iNaturalist NZ).

It’s made quick work of spreading through the country. iNaturalist NZ current has 41 observations from throughout the North Island and from Nelson and Marlborough to as far down the east coast of the South Island as Timaru. It scrapes off “wool” for its nest from plants like Stachys byzantina and Lychnis coronaria (according to a comment on iNaturalist NZ by user epitree) and they seem to prefer blue flowers. At this stage they are not thought to pose any threat to existing NZ pollinators.