Subject: Odd Carpenter Bee Behavior?
Location: Eastern Massachusetts
May 16, 2014 8:49 am
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
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.