Eastern Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa virginica)
Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Eastern Carpenter Bee.
Updated: 6/29/2018; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
The female Eastern Carpenter Bee bores holes into wood homes, fences and patios to place her eggs while her mate plays the part of bodyguard.
Though it looks like a Bumble Bee, the Carpenter Bee does not have a completely fuzzy abdomen. It is quite common in the middle and eastern parts of the continent. Eastern Carpenter Bees can be found in parks, gardens, woods and fields, and are adept at finding flowers from which to harvest pollen. They are beneficial pollinators and should be welcome visitors to any landscape. Even though adults feed on flower nectar, they sometimes chew through stems, causing some damage to the plant, in order to reach nectar. They move quickly from flower to flower, pollinating and harvesting from a large area in a short time. They don't seem to mind sharing feeding grounds with other varieties of bees. Watch some of them pollinating flowers with other bees here:
Females use their strong jaws to cut into wood, making holes as large as their bodies. These somewhat deep holes may appear on wooden fence posts, lumber stacks, tree trunks, log cabin walls, and other thick wooden structures. They rarely bore enough holes to weaken the structure they're digging into, but the results of their work is unsightly. This hole is where a female will deposit her eggs, adding some pollen grains for each egg to serve as a food supply once the larvae hatch. A male guards the entry to the nest, preventing other males from potentially reproducing with the female.
Males and females look similar save the pale yellow patch of hair on the male's face. Both have black heads. The thorax is covered in short yellow hairs with a bald spot in the center. A band of yellow hairs sits at the top of the otherwise hairless and glossy black abdomen. Males are not known to sting, but females may. All adults are most active from spring through summer. They all hibernate during the winter.