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The Short Answer (TSA)

A native of the eastern United States, the Eastern Carpenter Bee (formally, xylocopa virginica) is one of several species of carpenter bees native to North America.   The “Eastern” carpenter is black except for a furry yellow abdomen. Otherwise the female “Eastern” is completely black. But the male “Eastern” has a patch of white or yellow on his face. Both males and females have a shiny black abdomen that clearly distinguishes “Eastern’s” from the furry bumble bee.

Although all bees are social, the carpenter, like the bumble bee, is the nearest thing to a “loner” bee. These bees don’t fly in swarms searching for flowers. Individual bees fly alone wandering (“foraging”) from flower to flower gathering pollen and eating nectar.

Like most other types of carpenters, the eastern is an important pollinator of open face flowers. The eastern is, also, a “nectar robber” tunneling into the sides of flowers much like these bees sometimes tunnel into the wood of houses and other structures.

And it’s this tunneling behavior that earns them the name “carpenter.” These bees build their nests in the hollow areas they create in soft wood. They have a reputation for damaging wooden structures that is not completely deserved. Woodpeckers seek out carpenter bee larvae for food and frequently “do most of the damage” when they peck on the wood near the carpenter bees’ nest.

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