A Carpenter Bee, Exhausted

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Xylocopa virginica

At the end of a long summer season of brutal territorial battles and of courting coy females, male carpenter bees are so tired and tattered that they let themselves be handled without protest. There’s no danger of being stung, as all male bees and wasps lack the stinging apparatus.


photo details:
Canon EOS 7d camera
Canon MP-E 65mm 1-5x macro lens
ISO 100, f/13, 1/250 sec
diffused twin flash

14 thoughts on “A Carpenter Bee, Exhausted”

    1. The white face is usually a good indicator, but those enormous eyes are even better. I wouldn’t pick anything up unless I knew from comparison what the female looks like, though.

  1. Male wasps (and bees) may not be able to sting but lots do have functional biting mouthparts. Wasp bites are not exactly pleasant, lol, but I can’t say ‘Was you ever bit by a dead bee ?’

  2. Poor lad! He is even missing some segments of his right antenna. Great shot. Those fly-like eyes are shocking. I am not sure I’d hold a male bee. As Biobob said, mouthparts can be amazingly strong and carpenter bees actually dig holes in wood with them so I will stay on the safe side.

    1. Hah! On a dare from a teenage bug nut, I let a stag beetle bite a few years ago. Hurt like hell and drew a fair bit of blood – That’s why I love working with kids!

  3. Great photo, Alex! We in Hungary have a nice black haired and blue winged carpenter bee, Xylocopa violacea, they usually feed on the flowers of Salvia sp. in my mother’s garden. They are very alert, fly really quickly (and loudly :)), so I have never tried to handle any of them – but sometimes I could pet their back hair. πŸ™‚

  4. Don’t these fly in spring? I’ve captured male carpenter bees and I sometimes saw them in their little face-offs then; I’ve never seen them in late summer.

    1. erm….
      Life cycle: Carpenter bees are solitary bees that survive over the winter as adults. After mating, usually in April or May, a female excavates a tunnel in wood or cleans out and reuses an old one. The nesting holes are perfectly round and about the diameter of a finger. Often, a pile of sawdust is found near the entrance of a tunnel and one may hear scraping sounds indoors. Males and females are territorial and will defend nest sites and potential mates. The female lays her eggs in a series of small cells within the tunnel. Each cell is provisioned with a small ball of pollen on which a single larva feeds. The larva pupates in the cell and emerges as an adult in late summer. The new adults leave the nesting holes to feed on nectar, but return to the tunnels to over-winter.
      http://www.masterbeekeeper.org/stinging/carpenterbees.htm
      ————————————-
      Both male and unfertilized female carpenter bees overwinter in nest tunnels constructed the previous summer. They usually emerge from the tunnels in April or May. Mating occurs within a few wecks [sic] and nest construction follows immediatcly.[sic]
      http://insects.tamu.edu/extension/bulletins/l1826.html
      ——————————————
      Females apparently constructed only one nest per year in the North; bees emerged in the late summer and overwintered as adults with mating taking place in the spring.
      http://entomology.ifas.ufl.edu/creatures/misc/bees/xylocopa.htm

  5. Hi I’m seriously allergic to bees, wasp and hornets. Can you recommend something that will get rid of them fast? ( kill them or not) just make them go away so I can go out doors.

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