Animal Species:Peacock Carpenter Bee

Carpenter bees are some of the largest and most spectacular of the native Australian bees. Their name comes from their habit of nesting in soft wood, like dead banksia trees, in which they cut entrance holes with their strong jaws.

Peacock Carpenter Bee specimen

Andrew Donnelly © Australian Museum

Standard Common Name

Peacock Carpenter Bee

Identification

The Peacock Carpenter Bee has bright metallic colours that change with the direction of reflected light. Sometimes they look purple then, moments later, a yellowy green. They are easy to notice, even before seeing them, as they emit a deep droning noise when flying between flowers.

Size range

1.6 cm - 1.8 cm

Distribution

The Peacock Carpenter Bee is found in eastern Australia north of Sydney.

Habitat

The Peacock Carpenter Bee lives in urban areas, forests and woodlands, and heath.

Feeding and Diet

The Peacock Carpenter Bee feeds on nectar and pollen.

Life cycle

The nest of the Peacock Carpenter Bee is usually a single tunnel about 30 cm long with interconnecting passages when the wood is wide enough. The tunnels are sectioned off into brood cells, which are sealed after an egg is laid inside with a supply of nectar and pollen rolled up into a moist ball. When the eggs hatch, the larvae eat the food balls and pupate.

Often the young bee in the bottom cell of the nest emerges from its pupa first as it was the first egg laid. It chews its way through the walls of the other cells to break free of the nest. The other pupae usually fall through the holes and gather in the bottom cell. They hatch normally and climb their way out of the nest.

Female carpenter bees sometimes cooperate during brood rearing, taking it in turns to guard the nest entrance while the main egg-laying bee goes out foraging for nectar and pollen to feed the larvae.

Classification

Species:
bombylans
Genus:
Xylocopa
Subfamily:
Xylocopinae
Family:
Apidae
Superfamily:
Apoidea
Suborder:
Apocrita
Order:
Hymenoptera
Class:
Insecta
Subphylum:
Uniramia
Phylum:
Arthopoda
Kingdom:
Animalia

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Tags bees, insects, arthropod, arthropods, invertebrates, identification, wildlife of sydney,