The 'Teddy Bear' Bee

Lots of youngsters received teddy bears as holiday gifts.

But native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis, received a teddy bear, too.

Of sorts.

A male valley carpenter bee (Xylocopa varipuncta), aka "teddy bear," recently visited his Davis home during the long holiday season. "We found it behind the couch," he said.

It's a green-eyed blond and fuzzy just like a teddy bear, thus its name. The female are solid black.

To the untrained eye, the male is often thought to be "a new species, a golden bumble bee." We get scores of telephone calls asking what this "big yellow bumble bee" is. A bumble bee, it isn't. A carpenter bee, it is.

Every time I see the females buzzing around, I think "Can the 'teddy bears' be far behind?" 

I saw one zipping through our garden last summer but it never stopped long enough for me to capture its image. 

But with Thorp's "teddy bear," I could. It's in his refrigerator, spending part of the winter there.  Soon, he said, he'll give it a little honey.