Monday, January 24, 2011

Carpenter Bees

In my neighbourhood, I often see two types of carpenter bees. One is black with metallic hues on its wings and the other one is smaller with a deep yellow on its chest. Dead bamboo that I often use to stake my plants are the favourite haunts of the first one. They fly in circles and come back to the same perch giving me the opportunity to take my photos.

Carpenter bees are large, hairy bees distributed worldwide. They get their name from the fact that they build their nests in burrows in dead  wood, bamboo, or structural timber. Wiki says that carpenter bees are traditionally considered solitary bees, though some species have simple social nests in which mothers and daughters may cohabit. However, even solitary species tend to be gregarious, and often several will nest near each other. It has been occasionally reported that when females cohabit, there may be a division of labor between them, where one female may spend most of her time as a guard within the nest, motionless and near the entrance, while another female spends most of her time foraging for provisions. Source.

Here's a closer look at the precision round holes they make on dead bamboo. Doesn't this remind you of a flute? 

It's difficult to capture the yellow-chested one as it moves so rapidly. But I included this image because the colour is so striking, especially against that black.


Anonymous said...

That does look just like a flute! Before we updated the front porch, the carpenter bees would drill these perfect holes in the old woodwork. We replaced with iron and stone!!!!!

Cyren said...

Oh would you look at that! I reallly like the small holes that they make on the side of the bamboo! It's so quaint! Like little doorways and windows! Do you think they hollow out the bamboo too, or is bamboo naturally a hollowed out plant? Really interesting although I am quite glad I don't see htem much here (those bees look positively GIGANTIC and ALARMING!) However, speaking of bees,I did see a blue bee today but it was flying too fast to photograph.

Ginny said...

WELL, I did a post with and about the carpenter bees last summer, you may remember. But you have covered everything so much better than me. For one thing, the picture of the flute they made!! Cannot believe how precise and perfectly round the holes are!!! And I'm so glad you included the picture of the one with yellow! I don't think we have those here, that is really something! I have never seen one like that!

Stephanie said...

Wow they are strong! I hope they only like bamboo though. I have not seen this type of bees in my garden yet. I really enjoy your nature/creature posts... all these bugs that I have not seen before, I see them from here ;-)