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The Black 'Bee'

Updated: Jul 21, 2023

🖤I have finally seen a Black Bee! Officially known as the Carpenter bee, it is a member of the Xylocopa species (in contrast to Bumble bees who belong to the Bombus family).

The Carpenter bee (Xylocopa violacea) has a black shiny body and purple shiny wings; they are solitary bees, often found in central Europe. They lay between 3-30 eggs in a decaying wood, each in separate galleries; the mother then blocks each one in with a sticky pollen to provide food for the larvae!

🖤 Bees have a fascinating interaction with the flower world and are very efficient foragers! Bees have a positive electrostatic charge on their bodies while flowers have a negative charge. A bee can feel the charge of the flower. If a flower has just been visited by another bee, the charge is less and therefore will move to a stronger charged flower, saving time and energy!

🖤 Carpenter bees are interesting as they commonly feed on the Solanaceae family (tomatoes, potatoes, cranberry). These plants have a poricidal anther with their pollen held inside, the pollen is released when vibrated at a particular frequency; the bee curls their body creating a high pitched buzzing sound, which agitates the particles to fall. They use the power of vibration to obtain their pollen, in a process called Buzz Pollination. They are too big to climb into some flowers and they use their muscles to shake the tips of the flower; the vibrations cause the pollen to fall off and shower their body, which they carry back to the hive. In some cases they steal the nectar by making a whole in the middle of the flower, rather than pollinating the flower. Either way, I like to think of the Carpenter bee and other buzz pollinators as the tuning fork of nature - working in a world of vibration, how cute!

Do you spend time with bees? I always think nature has a message for us. Bees are energy efficient, they have a huge task each day but they keep focused on the job and they are solitary too. They remind us we are capable of achieving all that we want.

Since ancient times bees have been associated with abundance, fertility, rejuvenation or that a new start is on the way. It is funny as I was saying thank you to the universe for what I had achieved in this moment… nature clearly heard me and vibrated back to me by in seeing this lovely little guy. The highlight of my day!

Giuliani, Claudia, Manuela Giovanetti, Daniela Lupi, Marco P. Mesiano, Renata Barilli, Roberta Ascrizzi, Guido Flamini, and Gelsomina Fico. 2020. "Tools to Tie: Flower Characteristics, VOC Emission Profile, and Glandular Trichomes of Two Mexican Salvia Species to Attract Bees" Plants 9, no. 12: 1645.

Mesquita-Neto, Bluthgen, Schlindwein (2018) Flowers with poricidal anthers and their complex interaction networks—Disentangling legitimate pollinators and illegitimate visitors. 32, 10, pp:2321-2332.

Salvatore Vicidomini (1996) Biology of Xylocopa violacea (Hymenoptera): In‐nest ethology, Italian Journal of Zoology, 63:3, 237-242,🖤

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