Male resting on LavenderWhen the male notices a female in his territory he approaches and hovers behind her, waiting until she is feeding to jump on her and mate. Sometimes the male just approaches and seem to touch the female and leave her alone to feed.
Wool-Carder bees copulating on Lavender. In this photo the larger size of the male is obviousWool Carder bees have relatively long tongues (7.5-8.5 mm) and like deep flowers such as Lavender, Jerusalem Sage (Phlomis), Woundwort (Stachys), Tree Germander (Teucrium) and Sage (Salvia officinalis). Mating often takes place on these flowers.
Male feeding on Stachys byzantina or Lambs' earResearch by Severinghaus and coworkers on American populations has shown that male Wool-Carder bees follow two strategies to secure access to females. Larger males are territorial and mate with females feeding or gathering wool from their patch. Smaller males are 'wanderers' and sneak on resident male territories to mate with foraging females. This research, following marked bees on two summers, uncovered a remarkable level of turnover in territory ownership, with most territory ownerships lasting less than 4 days (the maximum was 30 days).
In my garden, a male often rested on Jerusalem sage. Possibly the same male that ended up being a meal for a spider that lived on the same plant.
Male resting on Jerusalem Sage flower
Enoplognatha ovata has just captured the male