Al Crisalli took this photo of a male Valley Carpenter bee on a white Wisteria blossom.
These amazingly beautiful bees are covered with golden fuzz and they have green eyes. Like other male bees, they don't have any stinger, so they are also completely harmless. They're been given the nickname "teddy bear bees" because of their appearance and lack of a stinger.
For reasons that aren't entirely clear, male Valley Carpenter (Xylocopa sonorina) bees are far more rare than females — you might see 40 or 50 of the big, black shiny females for each one of the males. Around Tehachapi, the males tend to be spotted for a few weeks in the middle of spring and that's about it.
With their green eyes and golden fuzz, a male Valley Carpenter bee is an unforgettable sight, and a welcome one for anyone fortunate enough to encounter them. The largest bees found in California, Valley Carpenter bees are also capable of flying in cooler weather than almost any other bee. These large bees are able to thermoregulate their body temperature and can fly when the mercury drops into the 40s F.
Male Valley Carpenter bees will take up a position in a non-flowering plant, often near a food source, and release sweet-smelling pheromones to attract females.
The Nuwä (Kawaiisu or Southern Paiute) word for bees is haniiz, pronounced hahn-NEEZ.
NATURAL SIGHTINGS is a regular feature of the Tehachapi News edited by Jon Hammond which showcases photos of the natural beauty that enhances the quality of life in Tehachapi. If you have a good quality image of plants, animals, insects, trees, birds, weather phenomena, etc., taken in the Tehachapi area, you may submit it to the Tehachapi News for possible publication. Submissions can be dropped by the News office in the form of a print or CD, or sent by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.