THURSDAY: What are Carpenter Bees?

10 April 2014

THE SHORT ANSWER

There are many types of carpenter bees (Xylocopa) all over the world. They are called “carpenter” because they build their nests by tunneling into dead wood, bamboo or the wood in buildings. They build shallow passages in the wood by vibrating their bodies as they file away at the wood with their jaws (mandibles).

CARPENTER BEE [image]

In North America, there are only about 5 species of carpenters. They are sometimes mistaken for bumblebees because they have a similar size and color pattern. But the carpenter has a shiny rather than hairy abdomen like the bumblebee. Male carpenters have a white or yellow face and larger eyes than the females. Unlike most types of male bees, the carpenter male, sometimes, flies around outside the nest and even approaches animals. Only the female carpenter can sting, but members of this calm species seldom do unless they sense serious danger.

CARPENTER BEE [image]

Carpenters are active and their contribution as the pollinators of open-faced flowers is significant.  A few types of carpenters are quite creative in their pollination strategies and even “rob nectar” by cutting slits in the sides of flowers to remove the pollen.

CARPENTER BEE [image]

Most carpenters build nests in wood. But a few types nest in the ground. Compared to the honeybee’s hive, the carpenters’ nests are small with only a few bees to a nest.  As bees go, the carpenter is relatively solitary. But all bees are social. Even though each nest is home to only a small group of bees, carpenters often build nests in groups – giving them a kind of “neighborhood” populated with the nests of other carpenters.

CARPENTER BEE [video]

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Published by

Mark Grossmann of Illinois & Missouri

Resident of Hazelwood, Missouri Formerly Belleville, Illinois Career History: Illinois Attorney College Instructor Campus Chair Paralegal Studies Program Most recently: blogging on entirely random subjects

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