Fun with Arthropods: The Bees of Summer

April 17, 2008 Animals Comments (3) 1117

Hovering carpenter beeIt’s got to be familiar to anyone on the East Coast:  It’s a beautiful summer day, and you’re out in the park, or maybe just your back yard.  You spot an inviting picnic table, and are about to have yourself a nice sit when terror suddenly sets in.  You’re surrounded by bees.  Bees the size of hummingbirds.  They’ve obviously decided that the table is theirs, because they are hovering menacingly around it.  One of them flies straight for you, stopping to hover a mere foot away and staring you in the face with beady bee-eyes that say, in a universal bee-to-human language, “you wanna make something of it?”

You’ve just had an encounter with the carpenter bee (Xylocopa virginica), also known as the Wood-Boring Bee or Woodcutter, one of the more terrifying summertime residents of the Eastern United States.  As much fear as they may inspire, carpenter bees are in fact quite harmless (at least to your physical well-being) and actually inquisitive and even flirtatious.  That hover-and-stare we all interpret as confrontational is in fact the bee asking, “Hey!  Wanna screw?”

No, really.

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