Xylocopa varipuncta: Love and Romance in the Garden

What a romantic! Did you know that the Xylocopa varipuncta, also known as the male Valley Carpenter Bee emits “a rose-scented blend of volatiles”  from within “massive thoracic glands.”¹

You can’t make this stuff up, folks.

While courting the shiny black females,

female carpenter bee

Female Carpenter Bee

the amber male, with his bright green eyes and fuzzy amber body, emits a special cologne.²

Valley Carpenter Bee

Valley Carpenter Bee

The female decides if she likes his cologne and only then does nature takes its course.

When Love-in-a-mist met the Valley Carpenter Bee, it was a match made in gardening heaven.

love in a mist with Valley Carpenter Bee

Valley Carpenter Bee circling a Love-in-a-mist flower

Love in a mist flowered all over the garden this spring, both front and back and the bees love it. It makes me so happy to see them buzzing from bloom to bloom. Sometimes I just sit nearby and watch them work.

bee on love in a mist

The more typical, seen daily be the dozen

What surprises me is that most of the bees are small with stripes. There are dozens of them throughout the day working in the garden.

Conversely, the golden hunk of bee is an occasional visitor.

Meanwhile, his female counterpart is out back pollinating the pumpkin planted by the squirrel.

pumpkin vine

Runaway Pumpkin Vine…and yes, love in a mist

The pumpkin vine is racing across the garden at record speed and it’s only June. In all my years of gardening, I’ve never seen anything like it.

The bees working in my garden are docile. They don’t mind my presence as I brush up against the flowers, currently referred to by my family as “the jungle”. Love in a mist has completely taken over.

love in a mist takes over

The Jungle

slinky love in a mist

Slinky guards her catnip near the love-in-a-mist

Slinky likes to rest near one of the flowers in the back, but to be fair, it’s also close to her secret Nepeta plant, also known as catnip.

Mouse is also enamored with this flower, attracting lots of camera time with his antics.

In case it’s not obvious by now, I love this beautiful plant and the ease with which it grows. The original seeds were part of a “seeds that attract hummingbirds and bees” packet a few years back. They didn’t do much throughout the drought, but they’ve loved our season of rain.

We’re in the midst of a long heat wave now, so it could spell the end. I’m enjoying them while they last.

¹Wikipedia: Xylocopa varipuncta

²Native Bees: What’s the Buzz

24 thoughts on “Xylocopa varipuncta: Love and Romance in the Garden

    • You’re so funny. You’re right though. Great pun, too, Wilma.

      Are you growing love in a mist in your garden? I can’t believe how many years went by without learning about this amazing flower.

      Thanks for your kind words.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Great photos Alys!! The blessings of rain! We who have plenty, if not a tad too much, are fortunate to be reminded how many of our garden joys would be lost if those rains ceased. Thank you for that Alys – it’s so easy to take everything for granted isn’t it. The little stripey fellows you refer to I call honey bees which I’m sure is not the proper moniker, but they are the little hard workers who service the hives hereabouts. The bumbles remain my favourites though and I love to see them buzz by. Your love-in-a-mist is wonderful. I love that your menfolk refer to the abundant garden as the jungle 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pauline, it is easy to take things for granted, or even to be annoyed by what is sometimes too much of a good thing. I realized just last week that with all the hype of the El Nino year conditions, San Jose had an average rain-fall year: around 15 inches. It’s been dry for so long, that average felt like a lot. Our reservoirs have filled up nicely which is a boon and we had good snow pack as well (we rely on the snow melt to fill reservoirs). My hope is that people remember this drought, which may or may not be over, and don’t revert to their old ways.

      I’m sorry to hear you’ve been inundated with rain. I hear this morning that at least three major European cities are experience flooding this week as a result of too much rain all at once. Did your local flooding subside?

      I have learned so much about bees in the past few years. I never really thought much about the difference between a bumble bee, a honey bee, a carpenter bee or others I’ve yet to learn about. What I do know is that they are in terrible decline, so anything that can be done to help them is a good thing.

      Once the love-in-a-mist goes to seed, they’ll be moving on. Hopefully they’ll stick around for the nasturtiums.

      Here’s an interesting article: http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/mary-bumby-brings-the-first-honey-bees-in-new-zealand

      And another one about NZ native bees: http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/ourchangingworld/audio/20174685/new-zealand's-smallest-bees

      I hope your weekend is off to a good start. xo


  2. What a beautiful drift of your Love in a Mist! It does not look like Mother Nature needs any help spreading her seeds in your garden. 🙂 Stay cool in this heat – if you can!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Isn’t it amazing? All thanks to our wonderful season of rain.

      This heat wave should break in a couple of days. I’m looking forward to seasonal temps once again. Meanwhile, I was out doing some garden cleanup at 5:45 this morning. It’s the only time I can venture out till our weather cools.


  3. I am told that carpenter bees like lamb’s ear (which I planted the other day). I’m so not up on different types of bee, I might not notice, unless it is the male…. When I saw your post about them the other day, I was certain we didn’t have them here, which shows my lack of knowledge.

    Anyway, your pumpkin is indeed fantastic! And your cats are obviously loving the garden at the moment😊.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m not familiar with this flower at all–I need to go looking for some! I love the photos of the happy, mellow cats–mine are spending time in the garden, too, and trying to catch bees. We’ve discussed the perils of that but they aren’t listening . . . .

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kerry, you will fall in love with them. They are easy to grow and so pretty, both the foliage and the flower. Even the dried seed pods are cool.

      My cats don’t listen to me either, so I’m not surprised. I hope your kitties stay sting-free, though.

      Would you like me to send you some seeds when they dry? I’m happy to share them.


    • Thanks for the link. I have no doubt that scent plays a role in our attraction to the opposite sex. I often think this could explain why we are sometimes attracted to someone that is not good for us (they just smell good). I find all of it fascinating.


  5. What a sweet love story. Bees, blooms and fuzzy buddies. I’m hoping to write my own romance soon. The bees have been absolutely swarming the purple ground cover and don’t seem to mind my weed pulling antics either. Big fat bumble bees. I’m so hoping I can get the love in the mist to take over my yard and turn it into a jungle too. That is such a pretty picture. 🙂 Lets hope the drought is over. Hugs.


  6. Alys, your photography is wonderful, and my favorites are the ones of Mouse, and of Slinky, amidst all of the flowers.
    I’m so excited about the pumpkin vine! Can’t wait to see the pumpkins.
    Are years of dryness, I am so glad you have this wonderful “jungle” to tend to.


    • (((Laurie))) Thank you, thank you! I love taking photos in the garden and use light to my advantage. I never take the time to learn technique (what is an F Stop and why should I be concened) 😉 [snicker] but should.

      Thanks for sharing my enthusiasm for the pumpkin vines. It’s growing it’s way through the native plants now. I think it may have grown twenty feet long already, with at least one pumpkin over a foot tall. Wild!


  7. What an amazing factoid! Bee cologne! And that flower. Gorgeous. I know what you mean by soaking in the beauty before it fries. Wishing all the best for your pumpkin vine! I’ve got one now, too. Here’s hoping the squash bugs don’t find it. Your xeriscape yard is so fabulous.


    • I’m so glad you’re giving pumpkins another go. I’ve planted nasturtiums liberally. They’re supposed to discourage the bad bugs and so far so good. If they’ll grow in your area, I would definitely give it a try. Grow pumpkin, grow.

      Thanks for your kind words, Leilani.


  8. What’s the buzz? Ha, I like that. Fascinating right? I love hearing that buzz buzz around the garden. Admittedly, I don’t yet have too many blooming plants, so I haven’t seen many. Your Jungle is superb. All that from seed, amazing. It’s really sweet that the local bee’s go about their daily chores and don’t mind you. It’s like, you’re the giant and it’s a whole other world. Sorry to hear you’re melting in a heat wave. We had some pretty warm weather over the weekend too. I was out landscaping and drank tons of water. Today will be easier since it’s cooling with a chance of rain. I’m happy your pumpkin vine has gone rogue, my gosh! I wonder how many pumpkins you’ll have? Happy Monday my sweet! My friend Debbie is coming for two days from BC this week, I’m trying to finish a bunch of stuff before she arrives so I maybe OWOL…charge!!!! xoxo


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