BeeGetting Carpenter Bees

Bee Drama
BeeHolding

The above image is the female Carpenter Bee, and how I know this is she has a dark shiny face, whereas the male has a white mark on his face. You will see this in the following images. She is clinging to the bottom of a Monarda leaf, a favorite feeding flower of the bees. The reason she is clinging is that she has been relentlessly pursued and is attempting to hide, unsuccessfully I might add.

BeeLoved

Here comes a male now. He was hovering around her for many minutes. The males are stingerless by the way in case you were wondering why I am so close.

BeeGetting

She really had no choice in this, even though she possesses a stinger. I believe she was worn out from a previous go of this.

He was quickly getting his job done to be on his way back to feeding.

BeeMished

Off he goes a little messier than when he flew in, but quite happy I am sure.

BeeMoaning

Here she is looking pretty worn out with tail tucked. And what shows up to comfort her? A helpful fly. Actually, I really do not know what the fly was up too.

BeeBuddies

I have no clue why the fly is interested, but you will see him in the next few images.

The fly gets in a little closer to watch. Two more paramour fly in.

The bees are facing off as she sits motionless.

BeeSmirched

Now the battle for the lady bee. While they duke it out in the boxwood below, I remove the leaves. She was having a hard time hanging on to her leaf so I made it a little easier. I know, I know, bad to interfere in nature, but she was struggling and needed a rest.

BeWailed

The battle ensues. Poor loser.

She gets a moment’s break, while the fly keeps her company.

And the winner is…the bigger of the two. No surprise there.

BeeSiege

Here we go again. See the fly is still there during the action?

Another happy camper is on his merry way.

Our female moves over to another flower, but one guarded by a yellow jacket and for good reason too.

BeeSeech

She pleads for protection and the wasp helps out.

The wasp successfully runs off one male.

BeeSetting

In defeat, he flies off with the wasp in pursuit.

BeeDeviled

Leaving her open for yet another male, but she flies off in the upper right. But the deed gets repeated for a third time with Mr. Bee number three.

Now this whole drama had me beeWildered. I looked up Carpenter Bee mating and found out that they usually mate in May or June.

And I found no indication that they do this repeatedly. In fact one site said Carpenter bees only travel in pairs. This certainly was not the case as I saw this female mounted by three different bees.

Time for a little snack before it starts all over again.

But a really odd thing I read was that the males will try to mate with other insects and even small birds. Now that was a weird thing to learn. Carpenter Bees are not all exactly solitary either. That was new to me.  If you bee people have anything to add, please do. I could find very little information on this bee besides what everybody already knows regarding them burrowing into your soffit to make a nursery.

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About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at: http://gardenwalkgardentalk.com
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26 Responses to BeeGetting Carpenter Bees

  1. One says:

    I’m BeeWitched!

    I thought the female is the Queen. I imagine the Queen to be authoritative and decides on their BeeHaviour.

  2. Malinda says:

    Clever girl! Great pictures. Nature in action.

  3. Lynn Rogers says:

    That was unBEElievable! (Pardon the pun, but I couldn’t resist.) Don’t know much about carpenter bees except I have a house for them. We’ll see if they use it in the spring.

  4. wiseacre says:

    Great set of photos.
    I was beeguiled by the tale of the beedeviled female.

  5. Gesine says:

    Wow, great pictures and a funny story! I´m really a fan of the little fly!
    🙂

  6. b-a-g says:

    Bee-autiful photos and well-observed drama.

  7. dona says:

    UnBEElievable story and beautiful set of captures. 🙂

  8. Patsi says:

    You have me cracking up with your enthusiasm over these pesty bees.
    Sure got some great captures. Fun post !

    ps little hurricane damage at home more flooding and power outage futher inland.

  9. Donna says:

    BeeWildering to say the least. I have not heard of this at all nor observed it. I have seen some rather large bees in the monarda of late and will have to keep my eyes peeled for any of this BeeHavior. Great post Donna

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  11. Karen says:

    Oh, the poor girl. Or maybe she’s just a popular tart? At any rate, wow, all they needed was a Passion Flower and a hidden camera and they’d have their own steamy cable show going. Great photography, Donna.

  12. BumbleLush says:

    Oh boy, I’m tired just reading about this poor girl! (And it looks like the fly is a voyeur!) Excellent pictures!!

  13. Really great series of captures! Must be rough being pursued by all those males. Maybe its nice not to bee so popular.

  14. Holley says:

    Odd beehavior, indeed. Makes me glad I’m not a female bee!

  15. Holy cow! Can’t believe you caught all of that! Awesome!

  16. Bom says:

    Wow! Those are absolutely fantastic macro captures. Who would have thought that bees had their version of real life drama, love triangles, etc.

    BTW, I like your new header.

  17. Amy says:

    That is WOW! Something that would go so easily unnoticed, you captured play by play. It is amazing what all happens when we take notice. Great photos!!

  18. Emily Heath says:

    Hello, I’m a beekeeper and know how hard it is to get a non-blurry pic of the little flutterers, so well done!

    I don’t know about carpenter bees myself, but I happen to read a blog called Polinizador – http://polinizador.wordpress.com – written by a Argentinian biologist who knows lots about bees. They have a post about carpenter bees at http://polinizador.wordpress.com/2011/04/05/carpenter-bee/ so I took the liberty of leaving a comment on there linking to your post asking if they know more about the mating behaviour. They’ve replied on the post saying:

    “Hello Emily: Interesting observation in that blog. Do you know where the blogger is located? This mating behavior in August would make more sense in the South, where the warm season is longer. Most reports are of mating of carpenter bees in the spring. However there is one old reference of two generations per year in Florida. This would mean that there is some mating behavior going on later in the season. Males are also seen in summer and fall, not just the spring, especially in southern states, although they are less numerous in those seasons. It makes sense that they try to mate, what other reason for living do they have?
    I haven’t observed this myself and now I am curious so I will start looking and asking others.”

    They’ve also given you some further information links on the post.

    Best wishes

    Emily

  19. NHGarden says:

    Oh my! I am BEEdazzled! Amazing insect story with amazing pics!!!

  20. GirlSprout says:

    Donna, you’re so funny. Poor little bee.

  21. Jennifer says:

    Super post! I had no idea that there was so much drama in the bee world! The shots are amazing, BTW. It is neat that you were able to catch the wings in motion.

  22. She certainly was Beeloved! This was so much fun to read and watch. I did feel a bit sorry for her…poor thing!

  23. Christina says:

    Brilliant, brilliant post! Thank you for sharing all the amazing insects in your garden and all so beautifully photographed! Christina

  24. Answering my bee questions from an entomologist… “What a dramatic post! I enjoyed your story, but it won’t let me comment. Well, let me see if I can help clear things up a bit.
    Female Hymenopterans (the order to which carpenter bees (and all other bees, wasps, and ants) belong) have an organ called a spermatheca which can store sperm. Often, they will mate several times and store the sperm from many different males. Although the details of the process are not well understood, it is thought that this allows the female to choose which sperm she will use and/or decide how much genetic diversity her offspring will have.
    With regard to the mating time, the Xylocopa are extremely responsive to temperature shifts, so if the weather remained warm and pleasant, they might continue to mate. Indeed, mated females have been found at all times of the year in this species. Hope that helps!”
    This comment came from http://standingoutinmyfield.wordpress.com/ and like the blog name says, this author does stand out in their field. You must stop in for great images and entertaining stories. This blog really is a treat to visit.

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