Wednesday, April 21, 2010

What Is That Thing?!

 photo by Matthew Field and found on Wikipedia

So another amazing weekend adventure involved driving down to the South Bay to attend the Going Native Garden Tour and to meet the Meeses in person!  (and see the Curbstone Valley crew again, too!)  The first garden where I stopped had some amazing bees buzzing about the blooming poppies, lupines, and other incredible natives.  Wandering around, all the visitors abruptly stopped and turned their heads to observe the giant golden buzzing thing hovering amongst the Rhus ovata (or Sugar Bush).  What is it?!  Well, I had to know and after googling "giant yellow bee", I immediately found the answer:  Xylocopa varipuncta, or a male Valley Carpenter Bee.  The females are shiny and black, but the males really steal the show with their size alone.  I'll resist the urge to fish story it, but it was huge.  Since he was hovering around one area, he must have been protecting nesting females. 

Hopefully now that I'm picking up my own Rhus ovata at the nursery this afternoon, I can attract a few myself!  ( I couldn't resist)

Here's a link to another amazing photo.  Aren't they gorgeous?


  1. A beautiful bee...looks like that one is buzzing around some Collomia? We seem to have tons of that on the property, but haven't seen those bees. I hope your new Rhus ovata succeeds in attracting them though.

  2. What a great photo! Well, I really hope Country Mouse and I will make it to the Berkeley Bee Garden this year...

  3. I agree--that's a really stunning bee. I wonder if we have them down here, though I think I'd remember if they visited my plants! Good luck with your new rhus!

  4. James- California Insects says that this bee is common in So Cal, so you might come across one someday, although the California Carpenter Bee uses the stalks of Yucca whipplei to burrow little houses in! Keep an eye out and send us a photo, you of climate that supports the plants I covet!

    TM- I love the bee garden! It's very blue and very buzzy!

    Hey Clare, not sure what it's getting into, since I lifted the image from wiki, but perhaps you'll see some Carpenters! They're so huge you can't miss 'em!

  5. Yikes...a good thing that bee didn't decide to take a bite out of you!
    Wish I had been along on your journey. Kicking myself that I missed Curbstone Valley, 'Going Native tour' and maybe run into TM;-)
    I'm sadly lacking in I.D. skills, but fascinated by all the different bees zooming by my head when I'm in the garden.