Two Bees: A Close Encounter with a Cousin

So here I am, a male Valley carpenter bee, Xylocopa varipuncta, just enjoying the nectar on this tower of jewels, Echium wildpretii, in Vacaville, Calif.

Some folks call me "The teddy bear bee."

Yes, I like that nickname. The late Robbin Thorp (1913-2019), UC Davis distinguished emeritus professor of entomology, used to call me "the teddy bear bee" and display me at the Bohart Museum of Entomology open houses, because, well, for one, I am "cuddly"; two, I resemble a teddy bear; and three, I don't sting.

The good professor always used to say "Boy bees don't sting." That's true, but I can bluff pretty well.

They also say I'm handsome, what with my golden blond hair and green eyes. Aww, shucks!

"Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the fairest of them all?" Me.

But just don't mess with me.

So here I am, as I earlier mentioned, just enjoying my share of nectar on this tower of jewels. Ooh, the nectar is divine. Divine, I say.

Wait! What's that? A honey bee, Apis mellifera, is trying to horn in on my territory.

"Hey, I was here first, Missy!"

Ms. Honey Bee shrugs. "Sorry, buddy boy, I'll take what I want."

Oh, the audacity, the audacity, I say. Doesn't she know that I'm bigger than she is? Okay, she's got a stinger, but I'm bigger and I can bluff my way out of this.

Whoops, she's moving! She's moving toward me! Oh, dear! She's closing in on me.

Umm...bye, bye, Echium wildpretii...your nectar isn't as good as I thought it would be. Not with that honey bee refusing to keep her social distance! I'm outta here!