Each summer when the Echinacea (purple cone flower) blooms in front of my house, the borer bees have a picnic. These bees don’t seem to bother humans unless, of course, you end up accidentally trapping one of them close to your body. Their sting is extremely painful, I have first hand knowledge.
This carpenter bee (Xylocopa virginica) is busily feeding on the tubular florets of the echinacea bloom. The carpenter bee is also known as the Borer Bee because it bores holes in wood to build it’s nest. I’m not generally afraid of bees and although I was very close to the bees I was photographing, none of them seemed to be bothered by my presence. Only female Carpenter bees sting. I have had the unfortunate experience of being stung by a carpenter bee but most likely because it flew between my legs while I was walking. One website I read said they have to be “extremely provoked” to sting. I guess it didn’t like being squished between my legs anymore than I liked squishing it. The resulting sting hurt and itched and swelled to about 8″ in diameter.
Echinacea Purpurea, better known by its common name of Purple Cone Flower is a perennial that grows easily anywhere except in boggy areas. These plants started from a single Echinacea I planted several years ago and have now spread throughout my front flower garden. Echinacea “awakens and stimulates the immune system. It is very effective as prevention (or in the early stages of infection), but also for treating infection. The root of the plant is generally used to treat infections of the respiratory and urinary tracts and to prevent flu and cold.” The root of the echinacea plant is dried and ground up and is used as a tea and the florets of the bloom can be mixed with alcohol to create a poultice for topical application.