Carpenter_bee.jpg (36402 bytes)Carpenter Bee: (Xylocopa species) are large, handsome native bees. Their metallic colouring changes with the angle at which light is reflected. Females are yellow-green and males purplish-blue.
Carpenter Bees nest in the dead flowering stalks of Grass Trees (Xanthorrhoea) or the soft wood of Banksias and Leptospermums.
They are called Carpenter Bees because their nests are constructed by ripping out soft wood fibres with their strong jaws. The nest is often a single tunnel that may be 30 centimetres long. If the timber is soft enough then interconnected, parallel tunnels may be constructed. The nest entrance is defended by blocking it with the bee’s abdomen.
The image shows a male Carpenter Bee visiting a Callistemon polandii flower spike at Yallaroo in spring 2005. We have also observed these large native bees visiting Geraldton Wax flowers (Chamelaucium species). The Carpenter Bee makes its presence known by a loud, deep drone as it moves from flower to flower.
The Carpenter Bee is about the same size as the annoying Blow Fly.
Much of this information was gleaned from the bible of native bee information: Native Bees of the Sydney Region, a Field Guide. This is an Australian Native Bee Research Centre publication. This book is a must for anyone interested in these fascinating native insects. Most of the species described have a much wider distribution than the Sydney region.