The European honey bee is important in modern agriculture and in nature, providing pollination for many valuable crops and wild plants. It is native to Asia and the Middle East and was introduced to North America by early European colonists.
The Africanized Honey Bee is a result of mating between African bees and European honey bees of North and South America. In 1956, a geneticist brought African queens to Brazil with the idea of developing a superior honey bee, one more suited to tropical conditions. Unfortunately, some of these bees were accidentally released near Sao Paulo, Brazil. The bees interbred in the wild with the European honey bees, resulting in "Africanized" offspring. They have spread throughout most of South America, Mexico, southern parts of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California.
In the late spring and early summer, homeowners often notice large, black bees hovering around the outside of their homes. These are probably carpenter bees searching for mates and favorable sites to construct their nests. Male carpenter bees are quite aggressive, often hovering in front of people who are around the nests. Despite this aggressiveness, they are quite harmless since they lack stingers. Female carpenter bees can inflict a painful sting but seldom will unless they are handled or irritated.
Carpenter bees resemble bumble bees, but the upper surface of their abdomen is bare and shiny black; bumble bees have a hairy abdomen with at least some yellow markings.
Bumble Bee, common name for any of a group of large, hairy, usually black-and-yellow, social bees. They are found primarily in temperate regions of the northern hemisphere, often ranging farther north and higher in altitude than other bees. Fifty species of bumble bees are known in North America.
Bumble bees are similar to their close relatives, the honey bees, in that their colonies are headed by a queen, who is the main egg-layer, and many workers, who are the daughters of the queen, and in that drones (males) are produced during the mating season. However, the colonies of bumble bees, unlike those of honey bees, only survive during the warm season; new queens hibernate alone to begin another colony the following spring.