Tue 30 May 2006
Walking along a path in Tsurugidake Nature Park (in Kurate, Fukuoka), I was stopped in my tracks by this big male carpenter bee (kumabachi = “bear bee” in Japanese) which kept flying straight towards me and hovering in front of my face. He was being very territorial and was chasing away anything that he spotted (other bees, butterflies). I’ve read that this species will even chase away birds! Apparently the male does not have a sting (although the female does) so the bee is perfectly harmless, but its aggressive behaviour and size (2cm or so) more than make up for the lack of sting! They are called carpenter bees because they make nest holes in wood (usually trees but sometimes in buildings).
I took about 50 or 60 photos of the bee hovering, but it was quite early in the morning so the light wasn’t good enough to get clear shots. Then I caught it in my hat (very easy to do) and managed to get hold of its thorax so I could take a close-up photo.
Hymenoptera: Apocrita: Anthophoridae
Xylocopa appendiculata circumvolans = carpenter bee (kumabachi )