Watercolour carpenter bee

Bees are perfect pollinators. They help plants grow, breed and produce food. They transfer pollen between flowering plants, which keeps the cycle of life turning. The vast majority of plants we need for food rely on pollination, especially by bees.

What are carpenter bees?

Carpenter bees are named for their incredible nesting method: they drill tunnels into wood with their razor-sharp mandibles, which leave deposits of sawdust beneath the entrance of their nest. They are especially fond of redwood, cedar, cypress and pine.

To gain a better understanding of this subject before you start, carpenter bees have six legs, two sets of wings and three body segments – head, thorax and abdomen. Male carpenter bees do not sting. Female carpenter bees are able to sting, but they must be extremely agitated before they will do so.

The bees are roughly 25mm to 30mm in length, are glossy black with sparse black hairs. The opaque wings are dark brown with a lilac-coloured sheen.

Your reference photograph for this watercolour demonstration: a carpenter bee

Techniques used

  • Wet on dry – apply wet paint onto dry paper.
  • Dry on dry – very little water is used in the paint and it is painted on a dry surface. This technique will give you texture.

Paint a bee in watercolour - demonstration