Types of Carpenter Bees – Species Identification

What Is A Carpenter Bee?

Last Updated December 5th, 2022: A carpenter bee is a large, non-aggressive type of bee that has been known to cause damage to wooden structures. They are called carpenter bees because they build their nests in wood, similar to how a carpenter builds with wood. The different types of carpenter bees vary in color and size, but all have the same basic body structure.

types of carpenter bees

Different Types Of Carpenter Bees:

The most common species of carpenter bees found in North America are Xylocopa virginica , Xylocopa varipuncta , and Ceratina spp. Although there are other types of carpenters bees around the world, these three species are some of the most common ones found in North America.

Xylocopa Virginica: Eastern Carpenter Bee

The Xylocopa Virginica species of carpenter bee is the largest carpenter bee found in North America and can be found in almost half of the United States as well as Canada. The female can grow up to about an inch and a half in length, while the male is slightly smaller at only three-quarters of an inch in length. Xylocopa virginica is known for its large size and striking golden hair coloring. 

This species of carpenter bee are more efficient in collecting nectar than other types of carpenter bees, and some of the main pollinators in the species.

Xylocopa Varipuncta: Valley Carpenter Bee

The Xylocopa varipuncta species of carpenter bee closely resembles Xylocopa virginica, but they are found in the Southwest side of the United States. It is often confused with the Virginica species because it has similar markings on its face and abdomen.   However, upon closer inspection, one can see that this bee has more white hairs than golden ones, which sets it apart from the Virginica species. 

This species is a bit different than other types of carpenter bees because it can withstand high and lower temperatures by using a process called thermoregulating which helps them to adequately control their core temperatures. This process allows them to thrive in hot and cold climates such as Western United States. They are closely related to California Carpenter bees (Xylocopa Californica)!

Ceratina Carpenter Bees: 

This species of bee is commonly found in the Northeastern part of United States. This species of the carpenter bee is quite a bit smaller than other species and has a shiny abdomen that lacks any traces of hairs. With an average size of less than 8 mm, they don’t look like your typical carpenter bee. 

Xylocopa Sonorina: Hawaiian Carpenter Bee

This subspecies of Xylocopa carpenter bee is found around Hawaii and other eastern Pacific islands. Females are mid-sized for carpenter bees and are generally all black in coloring while the males are golden-brown with green eyes, which makes them easy to identify. 

Southern Carpenter Bee – Xylocopa Micans

Found mainly in the American Tropics, but occasionally be spotted as far north as Southern Virginia. The Xylocopa Micans species is more commonly referred to as the Southern Carpenter Bee.

They have shiny and bright metallic colored exteriors and are very avid pollinators. This type of carpenter bee is rarely considered a nuisance pest, because they much prefer nature-made areas to make their nests.



About The Author:

David Floyd has 20 years of experience working as a pest control technician as well as running his own pest control company. His main goal is to provide accurate and helpful DIY tips to keep your home pest-free and how to identify different types of household pests!