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by Valerie

March, 2013

Large Carpenter Bee

large carpenter bee

Of our three species of Xylocopa, or large carpenter bees, Xylocopa parkinsoniae is the only one without a specific common name. It is also the smallest, but is still larger than a honey bee. The individual pictured here is a male, recognizable by his white face. As with many insects, males appear earlier than females, so they will be ready and waiting when the females finally do arrive. About this time (mid March) here in central Texas, people cannot help but notice these rather large and chunky bees that hover near us, as if inspecting us as much as we are watching them. Each male bee is patrolling a territory that he anticipates will attract females with whom he can mate. Anything that wanders into his space is subject to examination. There is nothing to fear from the curious bees. First of all, solitary bees are not nearly as aggressive as social bees protecting a nest. Second, male bees cannot sting. The stinger evolved from an ovipositor and only females have one of those.

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