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Eastern Carpenter Bee

Xylocopa virginica

Did you know?

  • Eastern carpenter bees are part of the Apidae family, which they share with other bees.
  • There are many species of carpenter bees.
  • They are critical native pollinators.
  • They, like most bees, rarely sting.
  • Their name partly comes from their ability to make holes in wood.

Young and Family

All carpenter bees do not live in colonies! Instead, they are solitary and come together only to mate. A female will create burrows in wood in which to lay her eggs. Once they are laid, she will leave them. Several generations will return to the same location. Over time, the many tunnels they dig to raise their offspring can weaken the wood.


All carpenter bees are large, meaty bees compared to many other species, similar to the bumble bee. Their size helps them burrow in wood for their eggs. A female large carpenter bee can tunnel through an inch of wood in six days! There are over 500 species of carpenter bee worldwide, but the Eastern carpenter bee is the only species to live in the Eastern United States.

Threat Level

  • Unknown
  • Common
  • Near Threatened
  • Threatened
  • Endangered
  • Critically Endangered
  • Extinct in the Wild


Not listed by IUCN


Eastern North America


Forests and adjacent grasslands

we care about Eastern carpenter bees

The Saint Louis Zoo takes care of Eastern carpenter bees in the Insectarium at the Zoo. We also support them in the wild through the Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Institute Center for Native Pollinator Conservation. Learn more about our efforts.

The Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Institute Center for Native Pollinator Conservation

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