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Happenings in the insect world
by Anne E. Schellman
on January 6, 2015 at 8:11 AM
Fantastic post Kathy! I enjoyed learning about the overwintering habits of carpenter bees. Can you tell me, what are the black "dots" on the top/front of the male carpenter bee heads?
by Kathy Keatley Garvey
on January 6, 2015 at 1:51 PM
Thanks! Those are the simple eyes called ocelli (single lens), as opposed to the compound eye (multiple lenses). Ocelli are small extra eyes, usually situated on the top of the head. They are used to signal lightness or darkness to the brain. See at
by Anne E. Schellman
on January 6, 2015 at 2:40 PM
Thank you :)
by Lynn Merrick
on January 6, 2015 at 5:28 PM
Very interesting; love the always beautiful and amazing photos! Every summer I have regular visits from the girls, but have never had the privilege of seeing one of the boys. Is there anything I can do that might attract some of the boys?
by Kathy Keatley Garvey
on January 12, 2015 at 4:05 PM
Thanks, Lynn. Native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis, says the boys are more difficult to find and to see. The boys usually cruise around shrubbery from 3 to 5 p.m., chasing one another and looking for females. He's seen "teddy bear" bees sipping nectar from honeysuckle, salvia (sage) and some of the mints. He recommends you plant some of these flowers.
by Cal Garcia
on April 3, 2015 at 11:31 PM
As a native Californian, in 55 years, I had never seen a male Valley Carpenter bee! Yesterday as I walked our dogs & admired our neighbors' gardens, a bumblebee-sounding insect hovered near flowering Hibiscus. He kept up his flight plan for over 15 minutes. Finally, I took our dogs home and came back with a camera. Thankfully, I was able to catch a few shots of this golden fly-boy. Thank you for having an array of images for accurate identification.
by Aprille Curtis
on July 10, 2015 at 6:07 PM
Beautiful photos. I just photographed a male in my garden. I only see them hover and patrol. I've never seen them in a flower or sitting. I've even had them chase (or it felt like it) in a nursery. Thanks for the info.
by Tyson Kaiser
on April 15, 2017 at 7:33 PM
I'mm a real fan of carpenter bees, and as honey bee remover I get asked very occasionally to rescue/remove them. I was successful in transporting several beams full of females to my yard, where they hang on the side of my garage. I'm adding more beams for them to colonize so I can keep them in the neighborhood. They're really great guests and amazing pollinators, males are flying around at this time of year and I love seeing flying hamsters every once in a while when I go outside.
by Eddie B
on August 17, 2018 at 11:02 AM
For years I thought the golden colored carpenter bee was the queen. Are the black carpenter bees the females? And what type of carpenter bees are in Hawaii? And how many carpenter bees are there in a hole?
by Kirandeep
on April 7, 2019 at 4:42 PM
Hi, I noticed a big brown bee hovering around our backyard the past few days. After some investigation, it seems that we have a male and female carpenter bee nesting (hole) in one of the branches of our apple tree. The branch doesn't look like it's in good condition. The kids are frightened by the bees; heck they are a bit unnerving for the adults as well. Is it possible to encourage them to leave?  
by Kathy Keatley Garvey
on April 7, 2019 at 5:35 PM
Myself, I would encourage them to stay. They're pollinators.  
However, you want to encourage them to leave: Robbin Thorp, UC Davis distinguished emeritus professor of entomology, says:  
"If you are set on encouraging them to leave, you could try encasing the entrances with cones of wire mesh to make it difficult for them to find the entrance hole. Painting the ends of the dead branches will make them less attractive for the bees to initiate new nests.  
"If there are baby carpenter bees in the nest tunnels, they will continue to emerge over time.  
"Also prune out the dead apple branches. However, a rotting apple tree is an ideal nesting habitat attractive to carpenter bees."
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