Subject: Pollen Thief
Geographic location of the bug: Spartanburg SC
Time: 08:40 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: Good Morning,
Spring has sprung here in the Carolinas. I was watching the bees on a holly bush when I saw two bees, one much smaller than the other. The smaller bee got on the back of the larger bee, shook him like crazy and stole the pollen from his legs! Is this common in the bee world?
How you want your letter signed: Mike Healy
This looks to us like a pair of mating Eastern Carpenter Bees, Xylocopa virginica, and the male, who is on top, has a white face. We do not think pollen thievery was on his mind. According to BugGuide: “Adults take nectar from many flowers, often biting into base of flower to “rob” it without pollinating (but seen to pollinate Passiflora incarnata quite effectively–pollen is deposited on thorax).”
Thank you so much for the ID on my bees. Little did I know that I was interrupting an intimate moment! My son was morning the grass and the larger females were everywhere that there was a flower of any kind. Do three Carpenter bees sting? My son was terrified by then but they really didn’t seem to care about me, walking right up to them. I do remember from my childhood in CT, that there was a best of Carpenters in the garage and they would dive bomb us.
The picture that I took was that of the bees in a Holly bush. There were hundreds of them.
Thanks again for the education. I love What’s that bug!
Male Carpenter Bees are incapable of stinging, and females are not aggressive and rarely sting.