Bees of Canada Logo

Xylocopa virginica virginica (Linnaeus, 1771)


Scientific Name: Xylocopa virginica virginica (Linnaeus, 1771)

Common Name: Eastern Carpenter Bee


Apis virginica Linnaeus, 1771: 540 [♂].

     Type: USA, Virginia [unknown repository]. 

Apis analis Fabricius, 1775: 384. Synonymy by Moure (1960: , likley an unnessary name for the species described by Drury (1770)]

     Type: USA [unknown repository].

Centris carolina Fabricius, 1804: 357 [♂]. Synonymy by Smith (1874: ).

     Holotype ♂. USA, Carolona [MP: Bosc Collection].

Xylocopa texana Cresson, 1872: 283 [♂‚ ♀]. Synonymy by Hurd (1955: )

     Lectotype ♀, designated by Cresson (1916: 132). USA, Texas, by G.W. Belfrage and J. Boll [ANSP no. 2620].

Xylocopa (Xylocopoides) virginica krombeini Hurd, 1961: 251 [♂,♀].

     Holotype ♂. USA, Florida, Highlands Co., Lake Placid, 20 June 1960, by K.V. Krombein [USNM no. 65,822].


Taxonomic notes: The Linnaean Collection () holds many of Linnaeus' type specimens, but not one for Apis virginica Linnaeus, 1771. 

Though the pagination for Linnaeus's original work (Linnaeus 1771: 540) was correctly cited by Smith (1854), Ackerman (1916), and Hurd (1955), in most subsequent treatments for North America (i.e., Michener 1951, Mitchell 1962, Hurd 1978, 1979) the pagination is incorrectly recorded as page 450. 

This species was first recognized by Drury (1770) who provided a brief description (on page 96) and a colour illustration (plate XLIII) of a male specimen from Virginia. He did not name the species in the main text, but applied the name Apis Virginica to it in the index to the first volume, attributing the name to Linnaeus, presumably from his 1771 work (i.e., Linnaeus 1771) based on attributed pagination; Ackerman (1916) and Mitchell (1962) correctly indicated that Drury did this in the index to the first volume, which was actually published two years later (1773). The name Xylocopa virginica, again attributed to Linnaeus, was used in a newer edition published by Drury and Westwood (1837).

Three subspecies are recognized (X. virginica krombeini, X. virginica texana, X. virginica virginica), but only the typical occurs in Canada.

Biology: Several aspects of the life history of this species were summarized by Balduf (1962), with extensive coverage of nesting and social biology in Canadian populations by Peso and Richards (2010), Richards (2011).... Hurd (1959) discussed parasitism of this species by bee flies of the genus Anthrax; A. sinuosa Wiedemann (see Angus 1868). Osten Sacken (1886) and Rau (1926) recorded A. simson Fabricius, the later study suggesting that this fly was able to significanly reduce populations of Xylocopa. The cleptoparasitic mite Sennertia americana Delfinado and Baker was also reported from nests of X. virginica (Lombert et al. 1987). More recently, the arrival of the Giant Resin Bee, Megachile scultpturalis Smith, has been reported as aggressive in taking over nests occupied by X. virginica (Roulston and Malfi 2010; Laport and Minkley 2012).



Ackerman AJ (1916) The carpenter-bees of the United States of the genus Xylocopa. Journal of the New York Entomological Society 24(3): 196-232.

Angus J (1868) Habits of the carpenter bees. American Naturalist 1: 57.

Balduf WV (1962) Life of the carpenter bee, Xylocopa virginica (Linn.) (Xylocopidae, Hymenoptera). Annals of the Entomological Society of America 55(3): 263–271.

Barrows EM (1983) Male territoriality in the carpenter bee Xylocopa virginica virginica. Animal Behaviour 31(3): 806-813.

Gerling D, Hermann HR (1978) Biology and mating behavior of Xylocopa virginica L. (Hymenoptera, Anthophoridae). Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 3(2): 99–111.

Hurd PD, Jr (1955) The carpenter bees of California (Hymenoptera: Apoidea). Bulletin of the California Insect Survey 4(2): 35-72.

Hurd PD, Jr (1958) Beefly parasitism of the American carpenter bees belonging to the genus Xylocopa Latreille (Diptera; Hymenoptera). Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society 32(2): 53-58.

Laport RG, Minckley RL (2012) Occupation of active Xylocopa virginica nests by the recently invasive Megachile sculpturalis in upstate New York. Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society 85(4):384-386.

Lombert HAPM, OConnor BM, Lukoschus FS, Whitaker JO, Jr (1987) Ontogeny, systematics and ecology of Sennertia (Amsennertia) americana Delfinado & Baker, 1976 (Acari: Chaetodactylidae) from the nest of the carpenter bee, Xylocopa virginica (Hymenoptera: Anthophoridae). International Journal of Acarology 13(2): 113-129.

Osten Sacken CR (1886) Biologia Centrali-Americana. London, Insecta, Diptera (Argyramoeba), 1: 98-106.

Peso M, Richards MH (2010) Knowing who\'s who: nestmate recognition in the facultatively social carpenter bee, Xylocopa virginica. Animal Behaviour 79(3): 563-570.

Rau P (1926) The ecology of a sheltered clay bank: a study in insect sociology. Transactions of the Academy of Sciences of St. Louis 25: 157-277.

Richards MH (2011) Colony Social Organisation and Alternative Social Strategies in the Eastern Carpenter Bee, Xylocopa virginica. Journal of Insect Behavior 24(5): 399-411.

Roulston T, Malfi R (2012) Aggressive Eviction of the Eastern Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa virginica (Linnaeus)) from its Nest by the Giant Resin Bee (Megachile sculpturalis Smith). Journal of the Kansasn Entomological Society 85(4): 387-388.

Sociality: Variable
Nesting: Carpenter
Pollen Specialization: Polylectic
Wintering Stage: Adult

Crop Preference: Not Available
Non Crop Preference: Not Available

Distribution: Nova Scotia, Ontario, Quebec
Ecozone: Atlantic Maritime, Mixwood Plains

Distribution Map