Valley Carpenter Bees

There’s a spot on my regular bike-ride route where I often take a break – a couple of benches set up along the banks of one of Los Angeles’ concrete rivers.  And when summer rolls around I’ve often noticed these awesome giant bumblebees buzzing around the flowering bushes there – bumblebees that a bit of research told me were Valley Carpenter Bees.  So on a recent ride I went ahead and grabbed a few photos (using my Panasonic LX3, which continues to prove itself as a handy carryaround macro camera). 

Now here’s the interesting thing about the Valley Carpenter Bees – they exhibit a fairly significant sexual dimorphism.  Here’s a shot of a female – jet black and rather ominous looking.  

But the males – ahh, these are truly stunning.  Honey-colored fuzzballs with dappled greenish eyes, I still remember the first time I saw one.  Definitely a “What the ?!?!” moment.  Here’s a couple of shots.


Like I said they’re pretty big – about the size of the first joint on my finger – and in fact here’s one with my thumb in the photo to try and give some scale:


A few more shots are up on flickr.


4 thoughts on “Valley Carpenter Bees

  1. Hi, Ron,

    great pictures!

    It’s amazing what one can do now with a compact camera. More reason to always carry one with you.

    Keep up with the great pictures and fabulous podcasts!

    • (Hey Judy!)

      Looks like beespotter only wants info about Illinois bees though… not those liberal California ones :-)

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