All the "Buzz" on the Eastern Carpenter Bee

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    This website will cover many interesting aspects of Xylocopa virginica, also known as the Eastern Carpenter Bee. As their name implies, the Eastern Carpenter Bee can be found in eastern regions of the United States (Barrows 1983, Richards 2011). They nest in soft woods, avoiding woods that have been modified by humans. Their nest entrances can be distinguished by a perfect circular hole, which they create by burrowing through the wood using their mandibles (Gerling and Hermann 1978). Eastern Carpenter Bees are often mistaken for bumblebees as they share many of the same physical characteristics. These characteristics include black and yellow coloration on their backs along with a large body size (Grissell et al. 2011). X. virginica differentiate from bumblebees by only having hair on their thorax in contrast to bumblebees who have hair on both their thorax and abdomen (Grissell et al. 2011, Encyclopedia of Life 2013). Click
here to learn more about the Rusty-Patched Bumblebee, Bombus affinis, and see the physical resemblances it shares with X. virginica. To get another overview of the Eastern Carpenter Bee click here.
    The Eastern Carpenter Bee is unique in the fact that it has been classified as both a eusocial and a solitary organism (Richards 2011). Eusocial organisms have a distinct set of characteristics. One trait includes living in a group with each member having a specific role. This is seen in X. virginica as males have one of two roles, being either a satellite or resident male (Prager and Richardson 2012). The next trait involves only one female producing offspring with several males in the nest. X. virginica display this characteristic by having one dominant reproducing female (Peso and Richards 2010). The last aspect that defines eusociality is non-reproductive nestmates care for the young and guard and forage for the nest. Male Eastern Carpenter Bees assume the role of protecting the nest and searching for food (Prager and Richardson 2012). Another example of a eusocial organism is Camponotus pennsylvanicus also known as the Black Carpenter Ant. For more information about this insect click here.

      The characteristic of non-reproductive females caring for the young is not a trait seen in X. virginica. Instead, the dominant female assumes the role of delivering and caring for the young. Due to the fact that the dominant female takes on the responsibility for the offspring, the non-reproductive female has no significant role in contributing to the nest (Peso and Richards 2010).  For this reason, there has been debate about whether or not this organism is truly eusocial or solitary. An example of a truly solitary organism is the Black and Yellow Mud Dauber, Sceliphron caementarium, which can be seen by clicking here.     
   X. virginica has many unique characteristics that can be seen throughout our site. To gain more insight on this fascinating organism follow the link below.

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