Violet Carpenter Bee

The Violet Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa violacea) is an insect in the bee family. It is not a Bumblebee, because a Bumblebee has a hairy body. 

The Violet Carpenter Bee has six legs, two pairs of wings, and three body parts: (1) head, (2) thorax, and (3) abdomen. It has a shiny black body with short dark-grey hairs, called bristles. Its wings are dark (not translucent like other bees) with a violet-blue sheen. Its antennae are medium-sized, and the male has slightly bent antennae.

The male has a yellow patch on the top of its thorax, whereas the female does not (she has a black thorax). The male does not have a stinger. The female has a stinger on her abdomen, but she is not aggressive.

Violet Carpenter Bee (male)

The Violet Carpenter Bee grows to about 4-5 centimetres (2 inches) long. This is bigger that the size of a Bumblebee queen. 

It is common in western Europe. It is seen from April to July, and from August to September. It hibernates in winter. It prefers hot, open spaces, especially near human activity. It is also common in wine regions. 

It is diurnal, active during the day. It collects pollen from plants on its hind legs. It is a pollinator, but it does not make honey or honeycombs.

The Carpenter Bee does not eat wood. It eats nectar from flowers. Its predators include woodpeckers, bee-eater birds, and other birds.

It is a solitary insect. It does not live in colonies like other bees. However, it creates a nest near other solitary bee nests. Instead of many bees living in a nest, only one family lives in the nest. The nest is not a hive; it is a tunnel in dead wood, a wooden bench, or bamboo.

The female lays large eggs in cells in the nest. There are walls that separate the cells. These walls are composed of sawdust mixed with saliva.

Violet Carpenter Bee (male)
Violet Carpenter Bee (male)
Violet Carpenter Bee (male)

Photographer: Martina Nicolls


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