Meet the Mountain Boy

I call him the Mountain Boy.

A male carpenter bee, Xylocopa tabaniformis orpifex, appeared in our pollinator garden in Vacaville, Calif.,on Feb. 27, the earliest we've seen this species.

It's the smallest of California's carpenter bees and is often called the foothill or mountain carpenter bee.The females are black with light smoky-colored wings.  The male has bright yellow marks on the lower part of its face and some yellow hairs on the top front of its thorax.

In addition to the mountain carpenter bee, California's species are:

  • The Valley carpenter bee, Xylocopa varipuncta, the largest of the California carpenter bees. It's about an inch long. The female is solid black, while the male, commonly known as "the teddy bear bee," is a green-eyed blond. Why teddy bear? It's fuzzy and does not sting--or as the late Robbin Thorp (1933-2019) distinguished emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis, was fond of saying: "Boy bees don't sting." 

  • The California carpenter bee or Western carpenter bee, Xylocopa californica, the second largest of the California carpenter bees. It's often found in the mountain foothill areas of northern and southern California. It's known for its distinctive distinctive bluish metallic reflections on the body, Thorp says. The females have dark smoky brown wings.??

Look around. You may find a "mountain boy" or a "mountain girl" foraging in your yard or local park.