Carpenter bee: appearance and features, how long it lives and is the bite dangerous

Carpenter bee: appearance and features, how long it lives and is the bite dangerous

Carpenter bees belong to the Apidae family. They are single individuals. This species of insects is quite large in size. The body length can reach 3 centimeters. In nature, bees make characteristic nests. They gnaw holes in the wood, making real tunnels. These individuals do not produce honey, but they are of genuine interest to many people.

Origin of the species

Wood carpenter bees are a species of the genus Xylocopa, which belongs to the subfamily Xylocopinae. This genus includes about 500 species of bees. The common name for carpenters is due to their nesting behavior.

Virtually all varieties of carpenters burrow into hard plant material - it can be bamboo or deadwood. An exception is the species of the subgenus Proxylocopa. They make nest tunnels in suitable soil.

The genus was first described by French entomologist Pierre André Latreille. This happened in 1802. The name of the bee comes from an ancient Greek word that translates as "cutting tree".

Appearance and features

In appearance, this furry insect looks like a bumblebee. However, it does not have the characteristic yellow stripes. The common carpenter bee has the following features:

  • rounded body, which reaches a length of 2-3 centimeters - while males are smaller and devoid of sting;
  • blue wings with purple color;
  • black tone torso;
  • feet covered with fine hairs;
  • dark red mustache.


The carpenter is considered a thermophilic insect. Therefore, for habitation, they choose the southern regions and the middle lane. However, due to global warming, carpenters are able to move to cooler regions.

So, carpenter bees are found in these regions:

  • Belarus;
  • Ukraine;
  • west and south of Russia;
  • Caucasian mountains;
  • south UK;
  • southern Europe;
  • Middle East, Turkey.


Carpenters live in the steppe and arid regions of Europe. They are found in the foothills of the Caucasus.

There the bees build their nests in the hollows of dry trees and on the roots. Sometimes families of carpenters live near people, looking for cracks in rotten wooden structures.


Carpenter bees eat flower nectar, honey, pollen grains. Under the influence of microorganisms, the feed turns into bee bread, which is absorbed by young and adults. Under the influence of the secretion of the glands, perga becomes royal jelly. They are used by carpenters to feed the larvae.

This is the only kind of bee that lives on its own. Carpenters do not even form small families.

They do not make swarms and live individually, choosing a habitat to taste. Most often, carpenters prefer places with dead wood. Their nests are found on poles, in wooden houses or outbuildings.

When choosing a place to live, carpenter bees are not guided by the availability of food at all. They are distinguished by very powerful wings and are able to overcome impressive distances for the extraction of nectar. Hardy individuals can travel 10 kilometers from home and return.

Insects show their activity with the advent of warm weather - in early or mid-May. The active flight of individuals continues all summer and ends in mid-September, when the night temperature is less than +5 degrees. Sometimes carpenters remain active in October.

Social structure and reproduction

Ordinary bees are characterized by a strict hierarchy in the family. At the same time, carpenters lead a solitary lifestyle. They do not have a queen or worker bees. The female makes her own nest and takes care of the brood. Sometimes bees form small colonies.

With the advent of spring, the female carpenter begins to look for a partner for fertilization in the spring. At the same time, competition begins when insects try to defend their territory. Males are considered polygamous. One carpenter mates during the season with 3-5 females.

The following stages of development are typical for carpenter bees:

  • The female makes a nest by gnawing holes in the wood with strong jaws.
  • She places pollen and nectar at the bottom of each hole.
  • The female lays 1 egg in the nutrient mass.
  • She creates a protective layer of sawdust mixed with saliva on top.
  • On top of the sealed cell, the female again lays the nutrient composition and lays the egg again.
  • Until autumn, the carpenter's uterus guards the nest, and by the onset of winter it dies.

Carpenter bee larvae that hatch from eggs turn into pupae by autumn. After that, young growth comes out of the cocoons, which remains in the cells for the winter. From April to May, bumblebees gnaw through a protective cocoon and fly out for food.

Natural enemies

Carpenters are large and build solid wooden dwellings. That is why they have significantly fewer enemies in the wild compared to common honey bees.

Insectivorous birds are considered a threat to carpenters. These include shrike, golden bee-eater, bee-eater. Frogs are a danger to carpenter bees. This also applies to spiders. They make a web in the immediate vicinity of bee nests and catch gaping individuals.

Also dangerous for carpenter bees are hornets. They are 2 times larger and are very voracious. For their livelihood, these individuals can destroy many bees.

Dragonflies are considered another enemy of carpenters. However, they rarely attack, preferring more accessible prey. Such a problem is observed during the period of the most active reproduction of dragonflies. Near the surface of the earth, carpenter bees lie in wait for mice and other insectivorous rodents.

What to do if bitten

Males are considered the most aggressive. However, they cannot bite a person, because they do not have a sting. Females are able to sting a person, but for this they need to be provoked. To avoid problems, do not wave your arms too much, crush or catch the bees.

A carpenter's bite is dangerous. To reduce the manifestation of symptoms to prevent serious consequences, it is important to follow these rules:

  • Pull out the sting that is left in the skin. This will help prevent symptoms of intoxication.
  • Treat the affected area with an antiseptic solution. For this purpose, it is permissible to use hydrogen peroxide, potassium permanganate or alcohol. This minimizes the chance of a secondary infection.
  • Apply a cold compress to reduce swelling and pain.
  • Take an antihistamine. This will help avoid or reduce allergy symptoms.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to remove toxic substances from the body.
  • If you feel unwell, call an ambulance immediately.

At the same time, experts do not advise killing the carpenter bee, as this will attract other members of the family. Also, do not comb the damaged area, as this provokes the spread of infection. Do not drink alcohol or take sleeping pills after being bitten.

The carpenter bee is considered quite an interesting insect, which is listed in the Red Book. It should be borne in mind that his bites can cause harm to a person. That is why it is so important to avoid contact with these individuals. When bitten, first aid should be given to the person immediately.

This page in other languages: