Written by

David Floyd

David Floyd

Reviewed by

Brett Ehlert

Brett Ehlert

How Do Carpenter Bees Mate? – Mating Cycle (Updated For 2024)

Just like any other insect, reproduction is necessary to continue the cycle of passing down traits to future generations, and this process begins with mating.

The carpenter bee [Xylocopa virginica] is representative of the lekking species. The leking polygyny process involves males defending landmark sites devoid of resources useful to nesting or foraging females. 

carpenter bee mating

Females visit these sites strictly to mate after which they leave while their partner resumes his defense of a site where he waits for additional females.

Do Carpenter Bees Have Sex?

Yes, carpenter bees have sex to mate and eventually lay eggs! Generally, carpenter bees only mate once in their lives, and it’s usually the female carpenter bee who seeks out their potential mate.

The Process of Mating in Carpenter’s Bees.

Mating in carpenter bees occurs in April and is often accompanied by a bobbing dance. The males leave their natal nests in the late afternoon on warm spring days.

Very few of these males return time and again to the same landmark territorial hovering site; most move about frequently. Why there should be differences in site fidelity among males of this species remains unclear. 

how do carpenter bees mate

For mating to occur, the male carpenter bee needs female activity, specifically flight. When the female X. varipuncta comes within a meter or so, the male races to an outer cluster of leaves within his hovering domain and, landing on the vegetation, he proceeds to rub his legs and lower abdomen over the plant material. If the female is receptive, she then lands on that part of the plant that the male has “marked,” and short copulation ensues. Occasionally before mating, the couple will face each other and hover for a few minutes.

This intimate moment is when the carpenter bees mate. Once the carpenter bees have finished their episode, the female then starts to build her nest, and the male carpenter bee then leaves her to find another mate. The female carpenter bee will lay eggs in the nest, and she will take care of them until they hatch. Once the eggs have hatched, the baby carpenter bees will help their mother to build more cells in the nest. The carpenter bee colony will continue to grow until it reaches its full size.

Reacting To Intruders During Mating

Hovering males of X. varipuncta react to intruders by pursuing them in looping flights about the site. Often, the intruders leave quickly but there are times when several males occupy the same plant, each holding his own hovering station within a short distance of one another.

These subordinate males are attracted to the spot by the presence of a hotshot, a male that is particularly attractive to females, as has been documented for a number of lekking vertebrates.

Final Thoughts On Carpenter Bees Mating Cycle

Carpenter bees form an important part of our ecosystem, and therefore must be protected as much as possible.

Regardless of how often they pose a great danger to wooden properties, killing them off actually does more harm than good. So we advise that you employ non-toxic methods to keep them at bay.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this guide on how do carpenter bees mate and the overall carpenter bee mating cycle!



David Floyd:

David Floyd has 20 years of experience working as a pest control technician as well as running his own pest control company. David is Quality Pro certified and is a certified Structural Pest Control Operator in the state of North Carolina, and the owner of NCPestControlExperts pest control company.

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