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All About Black Bees

Bees are a type of insect with a dazzling variety of species.

They’re extremely common, especially wherever flowers are in bloom.

Have you ever spotted an unusual bee that you didn’t recognize? It may have been a black bee and missing the yellow stripes commonly associated with bees.

Learn more about black bees below and see if you can identify them in your area.

Large Black Bee - Xylocopa tabaniformis, in flight in Mazalan Mexico

What Are Black Bees?

Spotting a bee-like insect that’s black doesn’t necessarily tell you what kind of bee it is.

There are many different kinds of bees, and you might not realize that they can look very different from what you would expect. Almost every part of the world is home to thousands of bee species, and that includes black bees.

Different Species of Black Bees

Bee, Tropical carpenter bee ( Xylocopa latipes ), Tropical carpenter bee rest on wooden fence, Bee of Malaysia.

Some of the more common black bees you’ll likely see include carpenter, mason, and even honey bees.

Most often, you’ll spot two different kinds of carpenter bees, large and small. Large carpenter bees can be startling because they are huge and buzz loudly. They are completely black and shiny, so chances are, if you see a really big black bee, this is probably what it is.

Small carpenter bees are obviously much smaller and have a dark, sometimes metallic black or dark blue color. Since both are carpenter bees, they build their nests into solid wood material.

Bumble bees are more fuzzy and smaller than the bigger carpenter bees. Usually, bumble bees will still have some yellow hairs and won’t be completely black.

Mason bees often look very dark. In general, they tend not to be as bright or colorful as other bees, with the exception of the blue orchard bee. Some mason bees can have more faint yellowish stripes but still generally appear black.

Honey bees can sometimes be black, which is more common among certain breeds or subspecies. While most honey bees have golden and black stripes, a few types can be much darker.

Some honey bees that look black include German black bees, Buckfast bees, Carniolan bees, and Saskatraz bees. There will always be some genetic variation, so any of these types of bees can have a little more color or be darker overall.

Certain queens can also be mostly black, even if workers of the same breed aren’t.

Where Black Bees Are Found

carpenter bee on wood

Black bees can be found almost anywhere in the world that other bees are.

As long as there are livable conditions for the bees, mainly a warmer season where they can gather nectar and pollen, there are almost certainly black bees around.

These bees can be social or solitary depending on the subspecies, which means they have specific nesting habits.

Social bees will build larger nests to house many individuals and will typically seek out available spaces in buildings or hollow trees. Some carpenter bees are also social and will build their nests into solid wood.

Solitary bees will just have individual nests and live on their own. You might find these nests in trees, solid wood, leaf litter, soil, or small openings.

What to Know if You Spot Black Bees

You’re not alone if you get a little worried about seeing bees.

While bees generally tend not to be aggressive, it’s always good to know more about them so you know what to expect. This can help you understand where they might be nesting and their behavior so you can avoid any potential issues.

How Black Bees Impact the Environment

All bees are incredibly important for the ecosystem. A common trait among bees is the collection of nectar and pollen, leading to efficient pollination of flowering plants.

Many flowering plants require specific bees for pollination because only those bees are able to access the pollen due to their size and shape. Since black bees can be so varied, they are responsible for pollinating many different plants.

A mason bee, for instance, would fit into smaller flowers than a large carpenter bee.

Should You Worry About Black Bees?

Mason bees at an insect hotel in spring

In general, bees are not aggressive unless provoked.

Social bees are more likely to sting when they feel their colony is under threat but will probably leave you alone while out foraging.

Solitary bees are even less likely to sting as they don’t have a hive to protect.

In most cases, stings from black bees happen by accident, such as when they or their nests are stepped on in the backyard. Many of these bees don’t have stingers at all and rely on intimidating would-be predators with loud buzzing and flying.

As far as pest-related concerns, these bees can potentially create minor problems to look out for.

In the case of carpenter black bees, you may find them drilling into wooden structures. This can usually be prevented by painting or otherwise sealing any raw wood to deter them, and it takes a while before they do serious damage.

Social black bees can run into trouble when they find a place to nest that’s undesirable for humans. This can include in your shed, in open cavities inside your walls, compost bins, and more.

If you do notice black bees trying to move in where you would rather they not, don’t immediately turn to pesticides. Instead, try to find a local beekeeper or beekeeping club that will probably be able to help you figure out what kind of bee you’re looking at.

If they’re honey bees, it won’t be hard to find a beekeeper who will happily come remove the bees for you without harming them.

For other types of black bees, you may still want to get rid of them. If it’s at all possible, try to avoid extermination. There are often ways you can get them to leave without killing them.

Since all black bees are pollinators, they’re important to have around and need our protection.

The Beautiful Black Bee

Black bees come in many shapes and sizes.

If you see a black bee, don’t be afraid! Try to determine what it is and let it be. You’ll love having black bees pollinating your flowers or vegetable garden. After all, it’s part of what keeps all life on earth healthy.

If you found all this black bee information fascinating, we have a page on honey bees that you must visit!