Monday, April 23, 2007

Carpenter Bee

Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa virginica)

Carpenter bees are sometime mistaken for bumble bees since they are about the same size and shape. However, the abdomen of bumble bees is covered with coarse, yellow hairs. Carpenter bees have a hairless, black and shiny abdomen.

After mating the female prepares a nest. If she is constructing a new nest, she uses her strong jaws to tunnel into wood and excavate a gallery where she will lay her eggs. Often the female carpenter been will simply refurbish and/or add to an existing tunnel system. While the female is doing all the work, the male buzzes about noisily, aggressively protecting the nesting area from all intruders. However, the male is all buzz and no sting because only the female has a stinger.

Although they tunnel into wood, carpenter bees do not eat it. Like all other bees, they are nectar feeders and depend upon flowers for their food. Because these large, short-tongued bees cannot get to the nectar in many trumpet shaped flowers, they often engage in a practice called "nectar robbing". That is, they cut into the stem right behind the flower and extract the nectar from there.

Additional Resources:
Ohio State University
University of Kentucky
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