Hello! I was always told that carpenter bees (the very large ones that live in wood), are more dangerous than regular bees because they bite instead of sting. Is this true? Thanks!
Carpenter bees nest in pairs, rather than the large nests of social bees, and the male has no sting (it's a modified ovipositer, an egg-laying tube, after all). Consequently he cannot sting (the female can, and sometimes does), and there are very occasional records of bites. Usually, however, he just buzzes intruders, or hovers nearby (he's on nest guard duty while the female lays), and the large size often intimidates intruders such as humans.
This makes them considerably less dangerous than the already-negligible risk posed by 'regular' social bees, the vast majority of which are female and thus able to sting, as stinging (injecting venom into you) is more dangerous than simply biting (making a small hole in the surface layers of the skin).
In general, bees are harmless to people, and contribute massively to crop pollination, etc - they're also rapidly declining and should be helped, not feared.
Carpenter bees (Xylocopa species) do "bite"... but only when excavating their brood cells in dead wood. Their mandibles are robust and operated by some decent musculature. However, they do not bite humans
As a genus, Xylocopa is worldwide in distribution (except Antarctica). Even the Galapagos islands has its own species, X. darwini. They also tend to be much longer lived than most other bees, and can survive for more than a year.
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