A BOUNTY FOR BUZZING BEES

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.

23 thoughts on “A BOUNTY FOR BUZZING BEES

  1. Learned something! Had never heard of carpenter bees. Googled them. Nasty looking things I must say. Not fluffy and cute like, say, bumble bees! But everything has its purpose.

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    • These carpenter bees play a very important role in pollination – although the downside is that they also (as their name suggests) bore holes in wooden structures. We don’t get bumble bees in this country.Although these females have a stinger they are generally not aggressive unless directly handled. Certainly none of them bothered me while I was photographing them.

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    • Thank you, Eliza. You are right about the sound of contentment … there were so many of these carpenter bees visiting the wisteria that their buzzing was quite loud – a lovely sound on a warm, fragrant day.

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  2. I mentioned before I removed the wisteria from the house because it became destructive, but my neighbour has one up against the diving wall and it has grown the past season and is hanging over to our side.
    I expect her gardener will give it a trim in the coming weeks.

    I too noticed more than the usual number of Carpenter bees around a couple of our fruit tress the other day. Normally I see them in ones or twos but the other day there were loads!
    And like your encounter, all female.

    Something in the air, maybe?

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  3. I love wisteria. We have a native wisteria here. The blooms not quite as large as the Chinese Wisteria. Beautiful none the less.

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