Face to Face: Xylocopa violacea

Xylocopa violacea

It’s big and scary looking, but it’s mostly harmless.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted one of my photos. This one was taken in the beautiful country of Croatia, and its protagonist is a carpenter bee, Xylocopa violacea (or a similar species), a big and beautiful Hymenoptera of the Apoidea. While the most widely known of the bee species, the honeybee, is eusocial, there are various species, including Xylocopa violacea, that are solitary. The carpenter bees can be easily seen in spring and summer in many european countries, in places where there are many flowers, and they’re often mistaken for the far more aggressive hornets (which are actually completely different, and part of the Vespoidea) by the common people, but, while they can sting, they won’t do it unless you try to do something stupid like catching them with your bare hands. Carpenter bees lay eggs in tunnels in wood; each egg is in a chambers separated by the others by a septum made of plant parts; each chambers also contains a littleball made of nectar and pollen, so the larva has something to eat after it hatches. When their development is complete, the insects will leave their chambers in the wood and start their lives as adults.

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