The carpenter bee Xylocopa violacea has been known as a nectar predator since the 19th century (Bertkau, 1884). This means that it often does not enter a blossom in the normal way, like in the photo, but pokes a hole into the petals to get access to the nectar. This happens with blossoms that have hidden nectar, such as the common soapwort. Here the nectar is delivered at the base of the corolla tube, which is about 2 cm long. Germanies largest bee species nests in self-made nests in dead wood (Malyshev, 1931). Often also in settlement areas, which sometimes leads to problems. After an entrance made sidewards into the wood, the actual nest passage is hollowed out upwards or downwards. To gnaw one cm through the wood, X. violacea needs about 2 hours (Vicidomini, 1996). The individual brood cells are separated from each other by transverse walls made of wood chips. A female needs about 2 weeks to complete a nest with 7 brood cells. The larvae pupate and the adults hatch within the same year. Both sexes then hibernate in all kinds of cavities and mating takes place the next spring. Three Xylocopa species are known from Germany: Only X. violacea is considered to be not endangered. X. valga likely only occurs in the south and X. iris is considered as lost. The females of X. violacea and X. valga cannot be distinguished in the field. X. violacea males can always be identified because of their yellow antennal segments. X. violacea belongs to the species that are spreading further and further north. Previously known only from southern Germany, the species is now widespread throughout Germany. Since 2007, it has also been sighted in England. A sighting from Scotland dates to 2019.

Female of X. violacea or X. valga
Male with yellow antennal segments at the ends of the antennae