Carpenter Bee on milkweed. Notice the pollen masses, pollinia, clinging to its legs
The Carpenter Bee is easily confused with the Bumble Bees. It is the same size or larger, dark and robust. But it doesn’t have any hair on the abdomen, thus this part of its body appears glossy black. The Eastern Carpenter Bee is black all over, while Bumble Bees have yellow stripes. The hind legs of Carpenter Bees, especially females are thick and very hairy, different from Bumble Bees that have two rows of hairs forming a pollen basket. The male has a white spot on its forehead.
Male carpenter bee. It has a white spot on its face
The females dig holes on soft wood to build nests; that is why they are called Carpenter Bees. The males fight for territories in the early spring and you may see them buzzing around near buildings for long hours at a time. They don’t sting, so there isn’t much to fear although they may look quite threatening. The females stay through the summer building their nests and stocking them with nectar and pollen collected at flowers to feed their broods.
Habitat. Fields and gardens. In spring, they are often seen near buildings where there is some exposed wood. The Eastern Carpenter Bee is widespread, mostly in the East.
Season. From early spring to late fall.
Flowers. A large variety of flowers, from dogwood and apple blossoms in the spring to goldenrods in the fall. They seem to show a preference for large flowers or those grouped in large clusters. Passion flower and goldenrods are favorites.
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