Out of 4,000 native species of bees in America the Carpenter Bee (genus Xylocopa) is the largest. A solitary bee, it can be found in southern states from Florida to Arizona and along the eastern states up into New York. They have strong jaws that can actually chew into wood to make round chambers in which to lay its eggs and care for its young. We NEED to provide old limbs, tree trunks or an upright old log. They also need fresh water; a clean birdbath that’s given fresh water everyday is an easy solution. They like to pollinate eggplant and tomatoes with the pollen of salvias, penstemons and other tubular flowers.

The smallest bee, Perdita minima, is about 1/16th of an inch long; it’s rarely noticed by gardeners and is a finicky eater with very hairy legs that can carry ‘large’ loads of pollen. Another solitary bee who lives in southwestern states, nests in the soil and apparently only likes the pollen/nectar from the small white flowers of mat-forming Euphorbiaceae, (Whitemargin sandmat, Chamaescye albomarginata), that grows in sidewalk cracks and along dirt roadways.

The photo of a carpenter bee that is drinking nectar from the base of a penstemon flower was taken by Julian Cowles. The photo of a Perdita minima on a carpenter bee’s head was taken by Stephen Buchmann. Both are from an article in http://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollinators/pollinator-of-the-month/carpenter_bees.shtml