Leafcutting bees use pieces of various plant leaves to build their nests, however determining which plants they prefer has been a challenge. In the past, researchers had to either observe leafcutting bees visiting a plant or identify pieces of leaf in the nest in to know which plant the bees relied on.

Now, using DNA barcoding researchers have been able to identify 54 plant species the bees use in their nests. Researchers found all but six of the plants contained antimicrobial properties, which could factor in leaf preference.

The researchers hope this information will aide leafcutting bee conservation.

Original research paper published by Royal Society Open Science on March 1, 2015.

Names and affiliations of selected authors

J. Scott MacIvor, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Toronto Scarborough, Toronto, Ontario