Monday, May 10, 2010

Eastern Carpenter Bee Xylocopa virginica

One word: CUTE!!

And these are the ones we see every Spring/Summer along with the Honey bees and Yellow Jackets. Oh yes yes yes!

I love them. And this time Wikipedia provides info and LOTS of info. So much so that it's impossible to post it all and not bore you to death. Plus I'd like to have mercy on the people who are kind enough to read this thing.

I'd like to give them the choice of finding out more on them ( as in reading the rest of the info ) if they want to by posting links, instead of "forcing" it on them by posting the whole thing.

But enough of my rambling and on with the info please!


Female carpenter bees make nests by tunneling into wood. They make an initial upward hole in an overhang, eaves trough, or similar structure. Then, they make one or more horizontal tunnels. The final nest usually resembles a T. Unlike termites, carpenter bees (also called woodcutters) do not eat wood.

They discard the bits of wood, or use them to make partitions (walls) inside the tunnels of their nests. The tunnel functions as a nursery for brood and the pollen/nectar upon which the brood subsists.

Males will visit flowers only to feed themselves, spending the rest of the time hovering in their territory and investigating any movement, or guarding flowers where they might encounter females . Females spend the majority of their time gathering nectar and pollen to provision their nests.

Because of their value as pollinators some people allow carpenter bees to stay around the home in the early spring, living with the cosmetic damage caused. In some fruit growing areas carpenter bee populations are encouraged by supplying them with suitable blocks or boards of soft wood.

I wonder if this is the same for every species? But that wouldn't make sense at least to me. Because even though they're about 500 species of Carpenter bees in 31 genera all of the Xylocopa sp. can't follow the same "nesting rituals" without any variation.

Wouldn't make sense. Unfortunately it seems to me that there isn't alot on most of the species with in the genera. I was lucky to find about 3.

Which I'll get to making post about for you all to enjoy. YAY! ^.^


Carpenter bees are not solitary bees, but are not truly social either. The weak form of sociality they exhibit, with one female doing the majority of the work, and caring for her sisters, may be a transitional step in the evolution of sociality. However they tend to be gregarious, and often several will nest near each other.

Male eastern carpenter bees are curious and will investigate anyone, including humans, that comes near their nests. The curiosity is often interpreted as aggressiveness; however, the males are only aggressive to other male carpenter bees. They do not have stingers and cannot cause any real harm. The female carpenter bees tend to be busy with floral visitation and nest provisioning, but have the ability to cause a painful sting if captured.

Males spend many hours guarding their territory against other males, hovering about the nests for hours on sunny days. They sometimes attempt to mate with other insects or small birds.

An interesting trick to use to "move" a male carpenter bee out of the way is to pick up a small pebble (roughly the size of the bee), then toss it past the bee. They will attempt to chase it, distracting them for a few moments, long enough for a human to get by. However, since they cannot sting, and rarely accord any attention to humans, this is unnecessary.

Carpenter bees are strong fliers, capable of returning to their nests from some miles away, but not very agile. They tend to be clumsy, frequently almost crashing into the side of a wall or various trees and plants. On occasions, the bees will fly into old windows made of acrylic glass, as UV light can pass through it and the bee sees it as open.

Carpenter bees are not aggressive. Often, a carpenter bee preoccupied with something will not sting or flee when approached closely or even touched by a human, but merely raise one or two of its legs in the air instead.

The last part I refuse to try. Although from my personal experiences with them I've gotten close to them and they never tried to attack me.

They let me watch them do their daily things ( pollinate flowers ) in peace which is one of the reasons I love them so. The honey bees that were often with them were "friendly" too.

Very relaxed and calm. People underestimate these insects too much.

Rest of the info here. Enjoy!

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