Identification, Images, & Information
For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada

Genus Xylocopa - Large Carpenter Bees

Large Carpenter Bee - Xylocopa virginica - male Eastern Carpenter Bee - Xylocopa virginica - female Another Strange Xylocopa from Florida - Xylocopa micans - male Southern Carpenter Bee - Xylocopa micans - female Xylocopa californica diamesa - Xylocopa californica - male Large Bee - Xylocopa varipuncta - male Xylocopa varipuncta - female Xylocopa tabaniformis Huge Bee - Xylocopa mexicanorum - female
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Hymenoptera (Ants, Bees, Wasps and Sawflies)
No Taxon (Aculeata - Ants, Bees and Stinging Wasps)
No Taxon (Anthophila (Apoidea) - Bees)
Family Apidae (Cuckoo, Carpenter, Digger, Bumble, and Honey Bees)
Subfamily Xylocopinae (Carpenter Bees)
Genus Xylocopa (Large Carpenter Bees)
Other Common Names
Carpenter Bees
Explanation of Names
Xylocopa Latreille 1802
Greek 'wood-cutter'
9 spp. in 5 subgenera in our area, 400 spp. in 31 subgenera worldwide(1)
12-26 mm
Carpenter bees have largely naked abdomens, separating them from bumble bees

The wing marginal cell

is very long and thin; the 2nd submarginal cell tapers toward the body to an extreme point (2)

Space between the mandible and the eye is short as compared to Bombus, which is much longer (2)
Xylocopa Bombus

Pollen is collected with widely spaced, stiff bristles compared to Bombus who carries pollen as a wet mass (2)
Xylocopa Bombus
worldwide (map)(1)
X. virginica widely eastern; X. micans se. US; 3 spp. are western (X. californica, X. varipunctata, X. tabaniformis(3))
Found on flowers and about nest sites in woody plants.
Early spring-late fall in temperate areas. Adults overwinter
Visits a wide range of pollen and nectar sources. Well known as a nectar robber.
Life Cycle
Burrow into wood, forming a series of chambers, typically 6-8. Each is provisioned with pollen (mixed with regurgitated nectar), a single egg is laid, and then capped with a disk of wood pulp. Chamber is sealed and adult does not return. Adults also reported to use abandoned tunnels and other cavities to store pollen before hibernation. Usually one generation per year, but may be two in south.
See Also
Bumblebees -- Carpenter-mimic Leafcutter -- Giant Resin Bee -- Mexican Cactus Fly -- Mallota spp. -- Bee-like Robber Flies
Internet References
Fact sheets: Grissell et al.(4) (FL spp.), Ebeling (2002) (western spp.)
Works Cited
1.Ascher J.S., Pickering J. (2017) Discover Life bee species guide and world checklist (Hymenoptera: Apoidea: Anthophila)
2.The Bees in Your Backyard: A Guide to North America's Bees.
Joseph S. Wilson & Olivia J. Messinger Carril. 2015. Princeton University Press.
3.California Insects
Jerry A. Powell, Charles L. Hogue. 1989. University of California Press.
4.University of Florida: Featured Creatures