Native Bee Spotlight: Small Carpenter Bees ~ Ceratina spp.

Small Carpenter Bee
on Hepatica flower
Small Carpenter Bees ~ Ceratina spp.

In my landscape, I start to see Small Carpenter Bees in March when the first woodland ephemerals are blooming.

Small Carpenter Bees are very tiny, for identification I look for white markings on the face and a shiny blue-green to black body. Not all species have white on the face although.

Small Carpenter Bee on
Wild Geranium ~ Geranium maculatum
These native bees nest in cavities of plant stems. Females will chew holes through the center of soft, pithy wood and create a nesting cavity. The female "places herself as a guard at the entrance. She will die during the winter but remains in place to block the nest access." (Attracting Native Pollinators, p. 248.)

Small Carpenter Bee
visiting Virginia Waterleaf
Leaving dead plant material in your landscape standing helps provide habitat for cavity nesting bees. If you have Elderberry species, think of those soft wood branches that often die back significantly each season providing nesting habitat.

This Small Carpenter Bee is visiting a Bluestar flower (Amsonia spp.) looking for available nectar and pollen.

Small Carpenter Bees continue to visit my native perennials throughout the spring into July. Pictured here on Ohio Spiderwort (Tradescantia ohiensis).

Also Harebell (Campanula rotundifolia). Their small size gives them an all access pass to small open flowers.
Look for these bees also on Beardtongue (Penstemon spp.),
Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa),
Wild Petunia (Ruellia humilis),
and Prairie Coreopsis (Coreopsis palmata).