I bet you guys have fun on your sight. I thought you might like the attached photo of a male and female carpenter bee from El Paso, TX. The differing colors are great. I believe them to be a Xylocopa species. According to John L. Neff of the Central Texas Melittological Institute in Austin, it is either X. varipuncta (your Valley Carpenter Bee) or more likely, X. mexicanorum, given distribution records. The picture was taken on Feb 19, 2005, which is a bit early for them to be out and about (they usually show up, based on my recollection, about April and May). They were rather lethargic for quite some time despite that it was not cold (upper 70s that day). The tree is a “Mexican Elder”, my wife tells me a Sambucus mexicana, though she is not sure. The site is: El Paso, El Paso County, Texas, 2 miles n. of downtown.
Thank you so much for sending in the gorgeous photo.
Ed. Note: When this image arrived last spring, we fell in love with it. We are always cheered by the presence of these large lumbering black female Valley Carpenter Bees in our garden each spring. They frequent the sweet peas and the honeysuckle. The female bees remain in the garden most of the summer. One year a bee nested in our carob tree and another year we found a nest in a sumac. The female bee labors many hours creating a tunnel. she fills the end of the tunnel with pollen and nectar and lays an egg, sealing the chamber with wood pulp. She will create about five or six chambers, each housing a single egg, within the tunnel. The adults emerge in about 45 days. Adult female bees will overwinter and create a new nest in the spring. The golden male bees are very short lived and have a very different, more nervous flight pattern. We are eagerly awaiting the appearance of the first male bees in our garden this spring. Male bees are attracted to our lantana and digitalis.