We have many types of native bees in our yard and I have always wanted to learn how to identify them. When I saw this bee on my butterfly bush, I took several pictures and went inside to look it up.

Xylocopa virginica
Eastern Carpenter Bee Xylocopa virginica on Butterfly Bush Buddleia Davidii

The Xerces Society has a nice bumble bee guide that I downloaded, but none of the bees seemed right. I soon realized my mistake when I noticed this bee does not have the fuzzy rear end of a bumble bee.

Xylocopa virginica
Eastern Carpenter Bee Xylocopa virginica on Butterfly Bush Buddleia Davidii

It’s an Eastern Carpenter Bee. This one is a female and has extra wide jaws for excavating a nest in wood. The males have a narrower face with a white patch. These adorable bees are uniquely shaped to pollinate purple passionflowers.

Eastern Carpenter Bee Xylocopa virginica on Butterfly Bush Buddleia Davidii
Eastern Carpenter Bee Xylocopa virginica on Butterfly Bush Buddleia Davidii

Sadly, much of the information I found about them details how to get rid of them. People worry they will sting or damage their houses. Only the females can sting but they are not aggressive. This one was busy drinking nectar and completely ignored me.

Xylocopa virginica
Eastern Carpenter Bee Xylocopa virginica on Butterfly Bush Buddleia Davidii

I’ve only ever seen one hole in a deck rail from them. I think they make most of their homes in the surrounding trees. We once had a dog who loved to gnaw on our deck railing- we kept him anyway. Deck railings can be repaired.

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