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Eastern Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa virginica)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Eastern Carpenter Bee



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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.



Updated: 09/25/2020; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
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.

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 result 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.




General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Helpful insect icon
Insect stinger icon




Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Hymenoptera
        Family: Apidae
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          Genus: Xylocopa
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            Species: virginica
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Xylocopa virginica
Category: Bee, Ant, Wasp and Similar
Size (Adult; Length): 20mm to 25mm (0.78" to 0.98")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black; yellow
Descriptors: fuzzy, stinging, flying, helpful

Eastern-Carpenter-Bee Video(s)




Eastern Carpenter Bees on a coneflower plant.
Quickly taking nectar from a coneflower.
Relative Size Comparison
Typical Range Between 20mm and 25mm
Lo: 20mm
Md: 22.5mm
Hi: 25mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Canadian territory of Alberta graphic
Canadian territory of British Columbia graphic
Canadian territory of Manitoba graphic
Canadian territory of New Brunswick graphic
Canadian territory of Newfoundland and Labrador graphic
Canadian territory of Ontario graphic
Canadian territory of Quebec graphic
Canadian territory of Saskatchewan graphic
Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
Contiguous United States shape map layer graphic
Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Eastern Carpenter Bee may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Eastern Carpenter Bee. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.

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