Giant amber colored bee

terry94705(SF Bay)September 6, 2004

When visiting the public rose garden at the state capitol in Sacramento CA this May, I saw a huge, very hairy, golden-amber colored bee. It was 2+ inches long and lumbering in movement. At first I thought it was a hummingbird! I followed it quite closely for a while and got a good look at it.

I've looked in many bee books since then, and I have learned that there are hundreds of species of bees in California, but I can't find a book that pictures or decribes more than a dozen.

Does anyone know what this might have been?

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Is this what you saw? They are actually quite common.

Here is a link that might be useful: Hummingbird Moth

    Bookmark   September 6, 2004 at 11:00PM
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I tend to agree with Pennsylvania Pete. It could be a Hummingbird Moth. Good luck with your research!


    Bookmark   September 6, 2004 at 11:05PM
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terry94705(SF Bay)

Thanks Pennsylvania Pete and Barbeebee! I could have sworn it was a bee, but I'm thinking that everyone whould know if there were a 2-inch bee around --so this probably was a hummingbird moth. It was the first I've ever seen!

    Bookmark   September 9, 2004 at 4:08PM
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I just read in a magazine that the hummingbird moth is the tomato hornworm. I am amazed. I always got a kick out of these moths,and have have been cursing them on my tomatoes without knowing they are one and the same. Won't ever look at them the same way again.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2004 at 12:54AM
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Hi Jane. Although common names mean nothing, varying as they do from region to region, the Hornworm moths are more commonly known as Sphynx moths and are active at night. I depend on them for pollination of my Mandevilla vines. They bloom all summer but get don't set seed until the big ugly Spynx moths become active in late summer.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2004 at 6:28AM
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This is the second spring that I've noticed a VERY large bee like insect that looks more like a cross between a bee and a beetle; it hovers in midair like a humming bird but I'm pretty sure it's not a bird (it is in fact smaller than a bird), and it displays a bee like behavior in that it feeds from the new flowers of a tree of mine. The problem is that those insects gather in a sworm around that tree and they look rather threatning. Does anyone know what in the world that thing is? Are they to worry about? My wife and kids don't even want to go out the front door anymore (where the tree is planted). Thanks, Paul.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2009 at 10:40AM
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You could also have seen a male carpenter bee. Many species of carpenter bees have golden colored males where the majority of the females are completely black. In addition, there are also larger sized bumble bees that have coloring very similar to the hummingbird moth shown above. A few months ago I stopped for gas and noticed two bees roughly the same size and coloring as you describe flying round and roung the parking lot where I stopped for gas in Lakewood, So. California. Below is a link to a UC Davis page that shows a male carpenter bee.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   June 24, 2009 at 6:49AM
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