Specimen Spot – Hymenoptera

Valley Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa varipuncta)

A better look at those stunning male Valley Carpenter Bee eyes
A male Valley Carpenter Bee showing off those stunning green eyes.

While you may refer to it as a bumblebee, this large fuzzy critter is actually a Valley Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa varipuncta). Found throughout the western United States and Mexico, their genus boasts the largest insect eggs in the world. While their size intimidates their competitors for nectar and pollen, they are rather gentle giants.

The all black female of the species is a common sight during the during the spring. However, the male of the species, which is affectionately referred to as a “teddy bear” bee, is rarer. Like most native bees, the Valley Carpenter Bee is not aggressive. The females are able to sting but are not likely too unless provoked.

Homeowners should not fear the Valley Carpenter Bee. While some carpenter bees do burrow into human structures, this species prefers old oak limbs and other soft, untreated wood.

Male Valley Carpenter Bee
A better look at the full body of this bee.

Noteworthy: Small or narrow flowers pose a problem for the Valley Carpenter Bee. They must cut the base of the petals of a flower in order to get the nectar. Known as “stealing the nectar” this practice only serves the needs of the bee and does not aid in pollination.

In honor of Pollinator Week (June 18th – 24th), check out the work of these organizations and join their efforts to protect our native pollinators and their habitat!




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