This is the season for the wisteria to bloom – a fairly common plant in the older gardens of our town as well as in farm gardens.
Apart from the collective beauty of the flowers, they provide a bounty for bees. Only the bees focused on today are not your ordinary honey bee but the large bomber-type bee that audibly buzz whilst whizzing past your head: the carpenter bees (Xylocopa species) that are commonly active from now until nearly the end of February.
While carpenter bees do not produce honey, they play an important role as pollinators of crops and wild plants.
I felt bombarded by up to a dozen of them flying about the wisteria blossoms. All bore yellow and black stripes, which signal that they are female carpenter bees and are probably Xylocopa caffra, commonly known as the Doublebanded Carpenter Bee. The males are completely covered in yellow hairs – if they were about then they were well camouflaged.