Subject: Photographed in Barbados
Location: Barbados
February 12, 2017 5:47 pm
Hi. Just wondering what this is? Never seen anything like it before in Barbados. Thanks.
Signature: Melanie

Male Carpenter Bee

Dear Melanie,
This is a male Carpenter Bee.  Female Carpenter Bees often look like completely different species as they are even larger, and black with bluish-black wings.  Only identified to the genus level Xylocopa,  though erroneously called Bumble Bees on the Barbados Pocket Guide, this description is provided:  “These early morning foragers are commonly known as carpenter bees because of the way in which they build their nests. A process that involves burrowing holes in dead trees, branches, stumps and/or old timber. They use their broad, strong mandibles (jaws) to chew into their chosen future homes. Inside, they form pollen/nectar loaves upon which they lay their giant eggs. The female mixes her saliva with sawdust to form strong partitions between each egg cell.”  Images of both a female and male
Xylocopa mordax are pictured on the Bees of Greater Puerto Rico, and we speculate that might also be your species.

Thank you! Normally the bees commonly seen there are black bumble bees or the honey bee. No one had actually seen this one before. I appreciate your prompt response.
M. Bannister

Hello again Melanie,
We suspect that what you are calling a black bumble bee is actually the female Carpenter Bee.  The golden colored males are not a long lived, which is probably why they are not seen as often.  Here is an image of a pair of mating Carpenter Bees from our archives.

Thanks! I meant to put bumble bee in quotation marks…as that is what it is usually called there. 🙂
The female bee is the one usually seen on the island.
Thanks again! So great to have it properly identified.
M. Bannister
*Being true to yourself is better than being a liar just to impress everyone*

Location: Barbados

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