Carpenter bees (Xylocopa sp.
) are large, fuzzy
bees which look like bumblebee
s. Some are all black, others are a combination of black and yellow. All nest in wood, and are semi-solitary
(they don't have hives like honeybee
s do, but sometimes several queen
s will share a common entry hole to their nest.) Since carpenter bees nest in dead wood, they sometimes do damage to the eaves of old houses, and can be pest
s. However, they are important pollenator
s of both native and agricultural plants, which more than makes up for the occasional damage they do to already-rotten wood.
Although carpenter bees, unlike honeybees, can sting multiple times without dying, they are not aggressive by nature and will not sting unless they or their nests are threatened. Carpenter bees also seem more intelligent and curious than other bees. Often, while working in the hills of California, I have had the interesting experience of a carpenter bee buzzing around me, then pausing in front of the face and looking me right in the eye. Sometimes, for my job, I have to collect bees to monitor which plants they are pollenating. Carpenter bees are the most difficult to catch, and usually, when I do succeed in catching one, I find an excuse not to kill it, instead realeasing it again to fly off into the flowers.