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Eastern Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa virginica)

Detailing the identifying qualities of the Eastern Carpenter Bee, including physical features and territorial reach.

 Updated: 8/8/2017; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©

  Eastern Carpenter Bee  
Picture of Eastern-Carpenter-Bee

The female Eastern Carpenter Bee bores holes into wood homes, fences and patios to place her eggs as her mate acts as sentinel while she works.

Though it looks like a Bumble Bee, the Carpenter Bee does not have a fuzzy abdomen, though it may have a few short hairs here and there. They are quite common along the middle and eastern parts of the continent. They can be found in parks, garden and woods, fields and are adept at finding flowers from which to harvest pollen. They are beneficial pollinators and should be welcome visitors to any landscape. Though adults feed on flower nectar, they sometimes eat through stems, causing some unsightly damage, in order to get it. They move quickly from flower to flower, covering a large area in a short time. They don't seem to mind sharing flower patch territory 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, tree trunks and other thick wooden structures. They rarely bore enough holes to weaken the structure they're digging into. This nest 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 will guard the entry to the nest, preventing other males from potentially reproducing with the female.

Males and females look similar save the light yellow/white patch of hair on the male's face. Males are not known to sting, though females may. All adults are most active from spring through summer. They all hibernate during the winter.

Picture of the Eastern Carpenter Bee
Picture of the Eastern Carpenter Bee

Eastern Carpenter Bee Information

Category: Bee, Ant, Wasp and Similar
Common Name: Eastern Carpenter Bee
Scientific Name: Xylocopa virginica

Taxonomy Hierarchy

 Arrow graphic Kingdom: Animalia
  Arrow graphic Phylum: Arthropoda
   Arrow graphic Class: Insecta
    Arrow graphic Order: Hymenoptera
     Arrow graphic Family: Apidae
      Arrow graphic Genus: Xylocopa
       Arrow graphic Species: virginica

Size, Identifying Tags and Territorial Reach

Size (Adult, Length): Size (Adult, Length): 20 mm to 25 mm (0.78 inches to 0.975 inches)
Identifying Colors: black; yellow
Additional Descriptors: fuzzy, stinging, flying, helpful

North American Territorial Reach (Though Not Limited To): Alabama; Arkansas; Connecticut; Delaware; Florida; Georgia; Illinois; Indiana; Iowa; Kansas; Kentucky; Louisiana; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; Michigan; Minnesota; Mississippi; Missouri; Nebraska; New Hampshire; New Jersey; New York; North Carolina; North Dakota; Ohio; Oklahoma; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; South Carolina; South Dakota; Tennessee; Texas; Utah; Vermont; Virginia; West Virginia; Wisconsin; New Brunswick; Newfoundland and Labrador; Nova Scotia; Ontario; Prince Edward Island; Quebec; Mexico

A Note About Territorial Reach: Keep in mind that an insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above. Insects are driven by environmental factors, food supplies and mating patterns and do not nescessarily work within hard-and-fast territorial lines like we humans do.

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