It's no wasp . . . don't worry, bee happy

Before you swat that wasp look closer, it might be a new bee.

It was first sighted in Napier and Nelson in 2006 and now the wool carder bee has landed in New Plymouth.

The Anderson family noticed the bee buzzing around their garden in Fitzroy about a month ago.

"We wanted to let people know because they are going to see them and think it's a wasp," Jean Anderson said.

A native of Europe, northern Africa and Asia, the wool carder has also established in the United States, Canada and Brazil.

It's about the same size as a honeybee but fatter, furry and bright yellow.

The male bee has a hovering flight. It is also very territorial and aggressive towards other nectar- seeking insects.

Also known as the leaf-cutting bee, the wool carder is so named because nesting females supposedly use the hairs or wool from plants to line holes in soil, wood, buildings or plant stems like roses, using their mandibles to "card" the fibres into cell walls.

Bryony Anderson showed the Daily News a hole in a fence post where the bees had made their home.

The Andersons are well-aware of the important role bees play in their garden.

"Otherwise the veges don't get pollinated and we don't get tomatoes," Bryony said.

The bees are important pollinators of many flowers and crops, and don't live in large colonies like honey bees.

Taranaki Daily News