Subject: Giant bees!!!
Location: Suburbs of Detroit
July 9, 2012 5:39 pm
I have had these 2 huge lavender plants out front for four years, but this year it is COVERED with an abnormal amount of bees. Most of them I recognize as locals, but there are tons of these gigantic bees that are black and the wings look black at the ends and almost take on a triangular shape when at rest. The two pics I am submitting look similar, but may be different?
What are they and do they sting like yellow jackets (over and over) or like bees (who lose the stinger in your skin)??? I grew up on a farm and have never seen such large bees! I’m excited and nervous about them 😉
Signature: Go Blue Girl
Dear Go Blue Girl,
This is a Giant Resin Bee, Megachile sculpturalis, an introduced species from Asia that has naturalized in North America. According to Bugguide: “They are opportunistic and nest in existing wooden cavities, rather than excavating their own. Effectively pollinate kudzu, another invasive species. Aggressive, it attacks other bees; it has been reported killing honey bees.” We do not have the answer to your stinging question, though we believe it might only be the worker Honey Bees that lose their stinger. Honey Bee workers are not individuals in the sense that a solitary bee is. It serves the hive to have a Honey Bee sting continue to deliver poison even though the bee dies. It would not be to any evolutionary advantage for a solitary bee to die after stinging.
Eric Eaton responds to stinger query.
I think barbed stingers are peculiar to social bees and wasps, or at least honeybees and some yellowjackets. So, the Giant Resin Bee could conceivably sting more than once, but in my experience solitary bees and wasps take a lot of provocation before they deploy their stingers.