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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Carpenter she bee

The female valley carpenter bees,
Xylocopa varipunctata, have been flying for weeks now. I just haven't gotten any photos until now. Hey, they fly pretty fast and erratically. Here's one feeding on a cape mallow (anisodontea x hypomndarum) flower. These bees are important agents of pollination for fruit trees and such. They also have a habit of boring nests into wood such as the eaves of your house, or your patio cover. In spring the adults emerge from these nests to feed and find mates. As I said, the all-black female bees have been flying for weeks. Today I saw the first golden brown male. I never see as many males as females, so if I don't post a he-bee photo here it's because I'm not lucky not because I'm sexist. Once they mate, the males spend time protecting the nest but don't live as long as the females. The female bees can sting, but typically don't. The males, lacking the oviposition equipment, can't sting.

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