Carpenter bees are species in the genus Xylocopa of the subfamily Xylocopinae. The genus includes some 500 species in 31 subgenera. The common name “carpenter bee” derives from their nesting behavior; nearly all species burrow into hard plant material such as dead wood or bamboo. The main exceptions are species in the subgenus Proxylocopa; they dig nesting tunnels in suitable soil.
Many species in this enormous genus are difficult to tell apart; most species are all black, or primarily black with some yellow or white pubescence. Some differ only in subtle morphological features, such as details of the male genitalia. Males of some species differ confusingly from the females, being covered in greenish-yellow fur.