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
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!
Eric Eaton provides an identification and a hypothesis!!!
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.