Understanding the impact of an invasive bee in North America


My dissertation research looked at the impact of an invasive bee, the European wool-carder bee, on native pollinators and plants. 

The European wool-carder bee, Anthidium manicatum, was first seen in North America near Ithaca, NY in 1963. But now, it can be seen across the country. Wool-carder bees are highly successful invaders, with additional established invasive populations in South America, Asia, and New Zealand. 

Great video from Team Candiru showing wool-carder bee behavior

Current known distribution of Anthidium manicatum in North America (from Discoverlife.org)

Male wool-carder bees are highly aggressive and actively defend flower patches to entice female wool-carder bees to visit the flowers they defend (check out the awesome video above by Team Candiru).


Female bees need to visit flowers to collect pollen and nectar to eat, and plant hairs (called trichomes) for their nests. To defend flowers, males use spines on the base of their abdomen to ram into other bees trying to access the flowers. This can cause severe injury, such as fractured wings, for the recipient of these attacks.

Male wool-carder bee resting on my hand. Check out those spikes at the base of his abdomen!

Female wool-carder bee collecting nesting material (trichomes) from a lamb's ear plant (Stachys byzantina)