Carpenter Bee, common name for a group of mostly large, metallic-colored bees that construct nests in flower stalks or wood. There are about 730 species of carpenter bees. They live throughout the world wherever woody plants abound, especially in forested regions. Most species live in the tropics.
Carpenter bees resemble bumble bees but do not have yellow markings. The females of most species are black or blue with a metallic sheen and may be up to 2.5 cm (1 in) long. In general, the males look like the females. In some species, the males are covered by light brown, light green, or yellowish-green hairs. Carpenter bees typically fly long distances and visit many kinds of flowers. They can maintain their body temperature when the air is cool. Several species form colonies that display interesting social behaviors. Some of these species pass through several stages of social development as the colony matures.
When female carpenter bees construct tunnels in solid wood, their chewing of the wood can be heard from several feet away. Piles of sawdust beside the nest entrance and the presence of many bees in flight in the area provide clues that a nest is near. Brood cells (compartments for offspring) are constructed in the tunnels. The cells are separated by partitions made from sawdust or wood chips cemented together with saliva.