4954 N. Shamrock Place, Tucson, AZ 85705

Carpenter Bee

Xylocopa spp.

Carpenter Bee

Physical Features

Large bees growing 1/2 to 1 inch long and have a shiny, hairless abdomen. Females are typically black with metallic reflections and males are a tan color. They have hairs on the hind legs. Females have mandibles used to excavate wood.

Life Cycle

Complete metamorphosis
After mating in the spring, the male and female return to old tunnels or create new, perfectly round holes 1/2 inch in diameter and a minimum 1-inch deep into softwood. A mixture of pollen and nectar is then regurgitated into the chamber and the egg is laid. Six to eight chambers are constructed and sealed off so that the egg can hatch, the larva can feed on the mixture and then pupate emerging in August in its adult form. Carpenter bees feed then return to their tunnels for the winter.


  • Diet: Flower nectar. Do not eat the wood.
  • Activity: Active in the springtime and early Fall.┬áTravel in small colonies.
  • Preferred Climate: Cooler temperatures
  • Defense: Females will sting if provoked. Males do not sting but will dart towards humans to cause panic.
  • Cautions: Initial damage caused is minimal, but subsequent broods will return and bore deeper into the wood. The shavings falling below can result in stains.
  • Home Invasion: Will bore holes in unprotected wood at least two inches thick.

Interesting Facts

Adult carpenter bees die a few weeks after laying eggs.


Must be extremely provoked if they do sting.

Nesting Sites

Commonly located near dead oleander, yucca stalks, wood piles or untreated wood structures in residential homes.