Currently viewing the category: "Resin Bees"

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

Giant Resin Bee

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.

Giant Resin Bee

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.

Not Carpenter Bees?

Giant Resin Bee

Location: Northeast Georgia mountains
July 1, 2011 2:29 pm
A group of 10 or 11 of these burrowing bees-wasps-hornets-flies hangs around a wooden bench made from a cayuco, which, in the Republic of Panama, is made from a hollowed-out tree. I brought this bench with me when I moved from Panama to the mountains of northeast Georgia. I even captured 3 groups of 3 of these guys and released them at different locations between 1 and a half and 2 miles from my porch where this bench sits. That left 2 that I know of. Within 3 hours, 10 or 11 of them were buzzing around again. I believe the captives had found their way back and rejoined the group. Huh? Although they’ve made holes similar to those of the female carpenter bees, from my research I don’t believe they are–these are too social and carpenter bees don’t have the ”smiley face” characteristic that you can see in one of the images. Besides, I have carpenter bees on my property and they don’t look like them. They’re not aggressive, as I& #8217;ve sat among them–even bumping them–without getting stung; assuming they have stingers. I could easily kill them, but I don’t do that. I was tempted to sacrifice just one to determine if it had a stinger, but I couldn’t even bring myself to do that. (No, I’m not going to capture one and hold it in my closed fist just to see if it’ll sting me.) I’m really baffled; haven’t found an image that even closely resembles them. Obviously, I’m missing something. I know someone’s thinking that I unknowingly ”smuggled” them as larva inside the bench when I left Panama. I left there 12 years ago, and these showed up only 3 years ago. Please help. Thank you.
Signature: Rob Lane

Giant Resin Bee

Hi Rob,
The first thing we have to say is that your action photos are spectacular.  Though the Giant Resin Bee,
Megachile sculpturalis, is an introduced exotic species, you had nothing to do with its importation.  The Giant Resin Bees were introduced from Asia and they are now very well established in North America.  BugGuide indicates:  “They are opportunistic and nest in existing wooden cavities, rather than excavating their own. Effectively pollinate kudzu, another invasive species.”


Giant Resin Bees

Thank you, Daniel, for that rapid response. Had I seen any image like the ones in BugGuide (the link you provided) I’d’ve instantly recognized it. Although I said it, I didn’t mean that they actually “made” the holes like the carpenter bees do. This piece of cayuco was riddled with holes, and I did observe the “plugs” in their entrances near the end of their season.  Do you think that those nine I captured and released actually found their way back?
Oh, and thank you for the comment on the action photos. I credit them to my Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ40 set at 1/160 shutter speed with flash.
Although I said that a cayuco is made from a hollowed-out tree, I failed to mention that it’s a boat (like a dugout canoe).
For your interest I’ve included a few more images focusing on the wood of the cayuco:
This is stem of the boat; the flat part on the very bow. That hole at the upper right is cut completely through and is where the boatman would tie his anchor line. You can see traces of the resin, mud, or clay at the center of the stem.

Resin Bee Nest

Hi Again Rob,
We believe the Giant Resin Bees may have found their way back, but we cannot be certain.


Unidentified Bee
July 17, 2009
I put up a bee house for mason and leafcutter bees with 3/8 inch holes. The leafcutters came earlier in the year and have gone. Now some of the holes have been plastered over and two large black bees with rust colored hair are going in and out the holes. They have very large eyes with mandibles coming out very close to the eyes. Their small eyes are in line with the top of their large eyes. The thorax is black with rust colored hair along the sides and the first abdomen segment is rust colored. The second segment is black, then a thin white stripe, then the rest of the abdomen is black.
Karen Oliver-Paull
Northern most part of Lancaster Co., South Carolina

Giant Resin Bees nesting

Giant Resin Bees nesting

Dear Karen,
The Giant Resin Bee, Megachile sculpturalis,is an invasive exotic.  According to BugGuide:  “They are opportunistic and nest in existing wooden cavities, rather than excavating their own.  Recently introduced from Asia. To make things worse it turns out to be a good pollinator of another introduced invasive: kudzu.”  Here is how BugGuide describes the life cycle:  “The female bee nests alone and begins by preparing a cell in an existing tube or narrow cavity, using resin and sap collected from trees. Other materials such as bits of rotten wood and mud are also used in nest construction. Next she collects pollen and carries it to the nest on the underside of her hairy abdomen.  After completing several pollen collecting trips, she lays an egg on the pollen ball in the cell. Then she seals it, and prepares another cell. Continuing in this fashion, one female can complete about 10 cells. If the entrance of the nesting tube is directly exposed to the outside, the tube may be noticeably sealed with a resin, wood and sometimes mud cap. After the eggs hatch, the larvae feed on the pollen and spend the winter within their cells. The larvae pupate in late spring and the adult bees emerge that summer.” North Carolina State University

Pictures of a giant resin bee, I think
I saw a couple of REALLY large bees looking at a gap in the frame of a window. I have since filled the gap. Actually, it might be more correct to say one was looking, and when the other approached they both flew up, facing each other. Didn’t seem particularly friendly but I could be wrong about that. After i caulked the gap (at night, no bee activity) I saw this bee again the next day, hovering around looking for the gap, very confused. Since then i haven’t seen him. I found a picture that matches this on your site, over this message: “The bee is a male ‘giant resin bee,’ Megachile sculpturalis, an introduced species from Asia, sometime in the 1990s. It would help to know where this shot was taken, so as to help track the progress of this species. Females nest in the abandoned tunnels bored by carpenter bees. Eric” Here are my pics; these are crops, at 100% magnification, from larger pictures. I left the shutters in the left part of the picture for scale. Oh, location is Suffern, New York. And we have a shed with abandoned tunnels bored by carpenter bees. EXIF information is intact in the pictures, if you care. I was happy to have a “super zoom” to take these, even though I don’t see a stinger didn’t feel like getting close.
Joe S.

Hi Joe,
We concur that this is a Giant Resin Bee.

Would love ID on this bee
Hi there,
My son and I noticed a bee we’ve not seen before visiting our flowers this summer. I know you are swamped, but I couldn’t find one like it on your bee page. It is over 1.5″ long. We saw a smaller variant also, about 1″, but I couldn’t nab a picture of it. Your site is our favorite on the Web. I’m glad and sad you are so popular.
Scott Williams and Kyle Mink

Hi Scott and Kyle,
Thanks for the compliment. We wish you had provided us with global coordinates. We are checking to see if Eric Eaton recognizes this bee which has us baffled. Eric quickly wrote back: “The bee is a male ‘giant resin bee,’ Megachile sculpturalis, an introduced species from Asia, sometime in the 1990s. It would help to know where this shot was taken, so as to help track the progress of this species. Females nest in the abandoned tunnels bored by carpenter bees. Eric”

D’Oh! Sorry! We are in Ann Arbor Michigan. My son is convinced it is a hybridized African bee — finally making it up this far north. He normally is on target ID’ing insects (ever since the age of 3, and he’s 11 now). Thanks!
Scott and Kyle

Mr. Bee
Hey Bugman,
There’s bees all over my vitex tree. A lot of them are this guy that I don’t recognize. I looked at your bees but still not sure. Leafcutter bee? My husband thinks it might be a hornet or mimic of some kind. Always appreciate your kind help for the ” insect challenged” here in West Tennessee.
Beth and Rick

Hi Beth and Rick,
We don’t recognize your solitary bee, but we hope Eric Eaton, who at long last has returned from Appalacia, might know the answer. Here is Eric’s speedy reply: “The bee is a Giant Resin Bee,” Megachile sculpturalis, so the submitter was right on with her identification. This species was introduced to North America from Asia in the 1990s, and has quickly spread over most of the eastern U.S. The females nest in the abandoned tunnels carved by our native carpenter bees. Eric”