Encyclopedia of Entomology

2008 Edition
| Editors: John L. Capinera

Alfalfa Leafcutting Bee, Megachile rotundata (Hymenoptera: Megachilidae)

  • Mark S. Goettel
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-6359-6_135

The alfalfa leafcutting bee, Megachile rotundata Fabricius (Hymenoptera: Megachilidae), has been successfully semi-domesticated within the last 50 years to pollinate alfalfa for seed production in North America. Honey bees are inefficient pollinators of alfalfa and, although bumbles bees and some other wild bees are efficient pollinators, they have proved difficult to manage. The use of the alfalfa leafcutting bee has succeeded in greatly increasing the seed yield of alfalfa. In western Canada, the average alfalfa seed yield using this bee exceeds 300 kg/ha, whereas without it is usually less than 50 kg/ha. The genus Megachile contains many species that nest in tunnels in dead trees or fallen logs. Most are solitary, but M. rotundata is gregarious and, although each female constructs and provisions her own tunnel, she will tolerate close neighbors. This behavioral characteristic is one of the main reasons why this species has been amenable to management on a commercial scale. M....

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Goerzen DW, Watts TC (1991) Efficacy of the fumigant paraformaldehyde for control of microflora associated with the alfalfa leafcutting bee, Megachile rotundata (Fabricius) (Hymenoptera: Megachilidae). BeeScience 1:212–218Google Scholar
  2. Goettel MS, Richards KW, Goerzen DW (1993) Decontamination of Ascosphaera aggregata spores from alfalfa leafcutting bee (Megachile rotundata) nesting materials by fumigation with paraformaldehyde. BeeScience 3:22–25Google Scholar
  3. Hill BD, Richards KW, Schaaljie GB (1984) Use of dichlorvos resin strips to reduce parasitism of alfalfa leafcutter bee (Hymenoptera: Megachilidae) cocoons during incubation. J Econ Entomol 77:1307–1312Google Scholar
  4. Richards KW (1984) Alfalfa leafcutter bee management in Western Canada. Publication #1495E. Agriculture Canada, Ottawa, Canada, 53 ppGoogle Scholar
  5. Richards KW (1987) Alfalfa leafcutter bee management in Canada. Bee World 68:168–178Google Scholar
  6. Vandenberg, JD, Stephen WP (1982) Etiology and symptomatology of chalkbrood in the alfalfa leafcutting bee, Megachile rotundata. J Invertebr Pathol 39:133–137CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark S. Goettel
    • 1
  1. 1.Agriculture and Agri-Food CanadaLethbridgeCanada