Currently viewing the category: "Carpenter Bee"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Possible Blue-eyed Carpenter Bee in the Woodpile
Location: Coryell County, Texas
June 3, 2014 8:11 pm
Hello! We’ve been puzzled by buzzing at our woodpile many warm spring/summer evenings for two years, and I finally captured some semi-clear photos of the insect. (I hate to tell you how many times I tried to photograph it! Had to use a flash, sorry.)
I thought it was a fly, but found this page on Bug Guide: http://bugguide.net/node/view/238002/bgpage
I also found this gorgeous photo on Flickr:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/jim_mcculloch/3003647472/in/gallery-29697818@N03-72157623044374947/
Is this a Blue-eyed carpenter bee? It was actually chewing wood, and would buzz from one area of the woodpile to another, sometimes climbing between the logs.
Thank you for helping us solve a two-year-old Mystery of the Woodpile!
Signature: Ellen

Horse Fly-like Carpenter Bee

Horsefly-like Carpenter Bee

Dear Ellen,
We agree that you have correctly identified your Carpenter Bee,
Xylocopa tabaniformis parkinsoniae, however, the common name Blue Eyed Carpenter Bee was made up by the person who posted the image to FlickR.  The scientific community carefully regulates the scientific names for insects, ensuring that like other life forms, each has a genus and species name that combine into a binomial, and the link to BugGuide that you provided also includes a subspecies name.  If we follow back to the species page on BugGuide, the common name is the Horsefly-like Carpenter Bee, and that is based on the scientific species name of “tabaniformis” and Tabanidae is the family name for Horse Flies.  The common name for the species is hyphenated, but in addition, the normal spelling of Horse Fly has been changed to Horsefly, and we find that quite curious.  We don’t know how official that name is because the only place we can find it being used is BugGuide.  So, though we agree with your identification, we cannot confirm a common name for this delightful bee.

Horsefly-like Carpenter Bee

Horsefly-like Carpenter Bee

June 3, 2014 8:22 pm
I just revisited the gorgeous Flickr photo, and realized that Blue-eyed Carpenter Bee is just what the photographer was calling the insect. He states that as far as he knows, the insect has no common name. He lives in Austin, TX.
Sorry for the mix up! The scientific name is perhaps Xylocopa tabaniformis parkinsoniae?
Thank you again!
I’ll go ahead and send a few more photos…
Signature: Ellen

Horsefly-like Carpenter Bee

Horsefly-like Carpenter Bee

Update:  June 4, 2014
Subject: Horsefly-like Carpenter Bee Leaves Us in the (Saw)dust
Location: Coryell County, Texas
June 4, 2014 12:44 pm
Hello again. I realize that I should be working and will have to make up this time later this evening, ha!, but I remembered that I had written about the buzzing from the woodpile and sawdust before. I found that post: Locust Borer On October 2, 2013 · Category: Longhorn Beetles
The locust borer was not the insect creating sawdust, so I went back to the oak firewood just now and sure enough, more sawdust. I turned the log above the sawdust over, and found our Carpenter Bee, hard at work. The log has several tunnels carved into it by the industrious bees. I’ll attach some photos. In one, you can see her (?) abdomen as she busily kicks out sawdust. She paid absolutely no attention to me whatsoever. Another photo shows the entire piece of wood, and one shows the empty tunnel entrance after she had kicked out sawdust and climbed all the way back into the tunnel to chew some more. I wonder if the long tunnel to the right of the working bee had housed larvae before? It had some sort of substance in part of it, that looked like old sawdust, perhaps, or pollen?
I also discovered and photographed a beautiful little moth that was trying hard to look like a lichen, and succeeding very well. It can be seen at the lower left part of the log.
After taking the photos, I turned the wood back over and placed it where it had been before.
So, now I suppose we should locate the woodpile farther away from the house, given the bees’ prodigious wood-chewing abilities, and I’ll see about repainting the trim on the house soon to discourage any house-chewing, and I wonder if I’ll need to check for tunnels in the wood before burning firewood next winter? Would hate to be a home wrecker!
Thanks again! Love your site, except for folks’ parasite questions but that’s part of life, too, I guess.
How you answer so diplomatically I’ll never know, but I always learn something or have a bit of a laugh when I visit What’s That Bug.
Best wishes,
Signature: Ellen

Horsefly-Like Carpenter Bee
Nest of a Horsefly-Like Carpenter Bee

 Hi Ellen,
We are very happy you wrote in and clarified the mystery of the holes in the wood from the Locust Borer sighting last year as well as connecting it to the more recent Horsefly-Like Carpenter Bee sighting.  We suppose this means you will be inspecting the wood carefully before tossing it on the fire to ensure that any logs with nests are saved until the Bees emerge.  Providing habitat for local pollinating insects insects helps to ensure that the plants in your yard will be fruitful.  We are also happy you find our responses amusing.  In selecting which of the many identification requests we receive each day to post, we try to have a nice balance between gorgeous images, exotic locations, common sightings, seasonal occurances and the absurd.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Odd Carpenter Bee Behavior?
Location: Eastern Massachusetts
May 16, 2014 8:49 am
Dear Bugman,
Out in the yard yesterday my son and I noticed what appeared to be two mating eastern carpenter bees (at least I think they are carpenter bees). They bumbled around together for a moment then dropped into the grass. One lay motionless in the grass and the other hovered several inches away. We thought the one on the ground must be dying/dead and were amazed to see that the hovering bee stayed in place, hovering several inches away from the “dead” bee for approximately 15 minutes. We were very surprised then to see the “dead” bee (we assumed the female) suddenly take flight and the hovering bee immediately resume mating. They flew together for another moment then landed again in another part of the yard. Again, the female played dead for about 10 minutes and the male hovered diligently (wishfully?). Eventually they flew off again, this time out of the yard. What was going on?? Did the female “have a headache” and was trying to get the male to ta ke a hike? Was she exhausted and dying? The picture shows the hovering bee on the left and the motionless bee on the right.
We were fascinated by this odd behavior and there were of course many “birds and bees” jokes to be made! Thanks for any insight!
Signature: Suzanne and Sean

Courtship Behavior of Eastern Carpenter Bees

Courtship Behavior of Eastern Carpenter Bees

Dear Suzanne and Sean,
We agree that this must be courtship behavior of Eastern Carpenter Bees, so we are tagging the posting as Bug Love, one of our editorial staff’s favorite tags.
  We will write more later.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Bee lovin’!!
Location: Philadelphia, PA
April 23, 2014 4:21 pm
Dearest bugman,
Please accept this photo my friend took of two bees getting intimate on another friend’s shoulder. I think it was too sweet she allowed them to use her shoulder as a love nest.
I feel embarrassed as I do not know what kind of bees these are. Perhaps carpenter bees?
Happy Spring!
Signature: Julianna from VT

Mating Eastern Carpenter Bees

Mating Eastern Carpenter Bees

Dear Julianna,
We are positively blushing at your superlative greeting of endearment.  We find your photo quite amusing, and an interesting counterpoint to an image we posted early this morning of a male Eastern Carpenter Bee being mounted by an unknown and considerably smaller Bee

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Hitchhiking Bee?
Location: Andover, NJ
April 22, 2014 5:38 am
I am hoping that you might be able to shed some light on this very peculiar behavior. I was photographing bees in our yard yesterday (our cherry trees just started blooming) and was excited to see my first carpenter bee of the season – then I realized that he had a passenger. The second bee was hanging tight to the carpenter’s back. The carpenter traveled around to some daffodils, seemingly not bothered by the passenger. Then, a third bee (and third species from what I could tell) flew in and appeared to attack the first bee. All three bees separated and flew off. The carpenter didn’t appear to be injured.
I’ve never seen anything like this and really hope that you might be able to tell me what it all meant.
Signature: Deborah Bifulco

Eastern Carpenter Bee carrying passenger Bee

Eastern Carpenter Bee carrying passenger Bee

Hi Deborah,
We must confess that we are uncertain what is going on in your images, which are quite detailed.  The Eastern Carpenter Bee is a male as evidenced by his light face.  We will send your images to Eric Eaton to see if he can identify the hitchhiking bee and to see if he has any idea what this behavior indicates.

Thanks, Daniel.  I am completely baffled by the behavior and the only plausible explanation I’ve been able to come up with is that perhaps the smaller bee was after pollen?  Hope Eric can shed some light on it.
By the way, I just got your book and am really enjoying it!
Debbi

Male Eastern Carpenter Bee carries passenger Bee

Male Eastern Carpenter Bee carries passenger Bee

Eric Eaton provides an identification and a hypothesis!!!
Daniel:
Looks like a male Andrena mining bee, perhaps trying to chase the male carpenter bee out of its territory?  That’s the only explanation I can think of.
Eric

Unknown Bee riding on male Eastern Carpenter Bee

Unknown Bee riding on male Eastern Carpenter Bee

 

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Inch long far hairy yellow flying insect
Location: Walnut creek California
March 19, 2014 11:21 pm
I found this bug dying on my lawn today and am wondering if it is anything to be concerned about with respect to sting allergies? I have not seen it before and it’s size is concerning: an inch long, maybe more, very yellow and very hairy
Signature: Not needed

Male Valley Carpenter Bee

Male Valley Carpenter Bee

This is a male Valley Carpenter Bee, and we just featured a posting of a sighting in after our own posting with a Mount Washington, Los Angeles sighting.  Male Bees, including Valley Carpenter Bees, are incapable of stinging because the stinger is a modified ovipositor, an organ for laying eggs, and only female bees can lay eggs.  Female Valley Carpenter Bees are black.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Strange bumble bee
Location: Chino, California
March 17, 2014 9:46 am
I found this burnt orange bumble bee type bug on my walk in Chino, California this morning.(3-17-14)We do have bumble bees around here but I’ve never seen anything like this one.
Signature: Melissa

Male Valley Carpenter Bee

Male Valley Carpenter Bee

Dear Melissa,
We just posted a photo taken at our offices in Mount Washington yesterday of similar male Valley Carpenter Bees nectaring on wisteria.  We believe male bees emerge first and defend territory against other males, though that is just speculation.  The seem much more wary and flighty than the larger black females that are so sexually dimorphic that they appear to be a different species.  Female Valley Carpenter Bees are the largest Bees in California, and their eggs, according to BugGuide, are the largest of all insect eggs.

Male Valley Carpenter Bee

Male Valley Carpenter Bee

 

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination