Carpenter Bee


In America north of Mexico, the subfamily Xylocopinae is composed of two genera, Ceratina (small carpenter bees) and Xylocopa (large carpenter bees). These bees obtain their common name from their nesting habits: small carpenter bees excavate tunnels in pithy stems of various bushes; large carpenter bees chew nesting galleries in solid wood or in stumps, logs, or dead branches of trees (Hurd and Moure 1963). The latter bees may become economic pests if nesting takes place in structural timbers, fence posts, wooden water tanks, or the like. The genus Ceratina has 21 species in America north of Mexico of which two occur in Florida (Daly 1973). Xylocopa has seven species in America north of Mexico, two of which occur in Florida.


Xylocopa micans Lepeletier is known from southeastern Virginia south to Florida, west to Texas, and south to Guatemala. The typical form of X. virginica (Linnaeus) is known throughout the eastern United States southward to Texas and northern Florida; the subspecies X. virginica krombeini Hurd is restricted to Florida from Sumter and Lake Counties south to Dade County (Hurd 1955, 1961).


At various times carpenter bees have been placed in the families Anthophoridae, Xylocopidae, or Apidae. Hurd and Moure (1963) traced the history of the placement of these bees in various families; the most recent placement is within the Apidae (Krombein 1967). This family is characterized, in part, by the jugal lobe of the hind wing being absent or shorter than the submedian cell and by the forewing having three submarginal cells. Within the family, carpenter bees are distinguished most easily by the triangular second submarginal cell, and by the lower margin of the eye almost in contact with the base of the mandible (i.e., the malar space is absent).

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