Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Valley Carpenter Bee Xylocopa varipuncta

Top to bottom: Female, male.

The Valley Carpenter Bee - Xylocopa varipuncta

Oh there's a reason they put 'vari' in the name. Are you smart enough to figure it out? :P

On with the info ( cause I'm tired )!

The Valley carpenter bee, Xylocopa varipuncta, is one of three species of carpenter bee found in Southern California and north through the Central Valley. Females are a metallic black while males are fuzzy and gold with green eyes. They are the largest bees found in California, to around 1 in (2.5 cm) in length.

These large, hairy bees are named for the Central Valley in which they are commonly found, and for their ability to bury into, and make their nests in, hardwood and telephone poles. There are two other species of carpenter bee found in the same areas of California: Xylocopa tabaniformis orpifex and Xylocopa californica.

The size of carpenter bees prevents them from entering tubelike flowers, instead they cut into the base of the corolla. This is referred to as “stealing the nectar” as it does not result in the bee being able to pollinate the flower.

Only the females of the species have a stinger, and will only normally sting when provoked. The bees tunnel through wood with their mandibles, although they do not ingest the wood in the process.

The tunnels average 6 to 10 in (15 to 25 cm) in length and consist of a linear series of partitioned cells. They prefer untreated or unpainted wood. The adult bees spend the winter in the tunnels.

Well that's all for now until the next post.

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