Valley Carpenter Bee


The Valley Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa varipuncta) is California’s largest bee and comes in two distinct colors. Males are a fuzzy gold color and have been called “teddy bear” bees while females are shiny and black. Both are excellent flower pollinators. They are named for their ability to burrow into wood, preferring unpainted and unstained fence posts, telephone poles, tree trunks, and similar types of natural timber. However, only the female Valley Carpenter Bee does the excavating.

The male Valley Carpenter Bees tend to be the first to rise from hibernation in the spring. It uses this extra time to prepare for the mating process by consuming large amounts of floral nectar. Eventually, it becomes very territorial, marking its territory by glandular secretion in order to ward off other males from stealing potential mates.

Did you know? Male Valley Carpenter Bees are of little threat to humans as they do not have stingers, while female Valley Carpenter Bees do have one, but will only sting when provoked.

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PHOTO CREDITS: Harmut Wisch (male bee), Jim Melli (female bee)