13 September 2020

Carpenter Bee - Tanoumah

Whilst birding the Tanoumah area I came across a single Carpenter Bee possibly Xylocopa pubescens, which is widely distributed. It is a large bee, measuring more than 20mm in length. Historically, Xylocopa pubescens has sometimes been treated as a subspecies of aestuans. The two taxa have different distributions, with X. aestuans restricted to Southeast Asia, while X. pubescens occurs throughout most of Africa and eastward as far as the entire region of South Asia. There are also very clear, but subtle differences in the morphology of females and males. Carpenter bees are species in the genus Xylocopa of the subfamily Xylocopinae. The genus includes some 500 bees in 31 subgenera. The common name "carpenter bee" derives from their nesting behavior; nearly all species burrow into hard plant material such as dead wood or bamboo. They dig nesting tunnels in suitable soil. Many species in this enormous genus are difficult to tell apart; most species are all black, or primarily black with some yellow or white pubescence. Carpenter bees are often confused with bumblebees; the simplest rule of thumb for telling them apart is that most carpenter bees have a shiny abdomen, whereas bumblebee abdomens are completely covered with dense hair. Carpenter bees are traditionally considered solitary bees, though some species have simple social nests in which mothers and daughters may cohabit. Carpenter bees make nests by tunneling into wood, bamboo, and similar hard plant material such as peduncles, usually dead. They vibrate their bodies as they rasp their mandibles against hard wood, each nest having a single entrance which may have many adjacent tunnels. Carpenter bees do not eat wood. Male bees often are seen hovering near nests, and will approach nearby animals. However, males are harmless, since they do not have a stinger. Female carpenter bees are capable of stinging, but they are docile and rarely sting unless caught in the hand or otherwise directly provoked.
Carpenter Bee