Whilst trying to photograph a bumble bee, bumbling around in the now rather lush ground cover, my attention was drawn to this big black bug, behaving in much the same fashion as the bumble bee.
It had a loud buzz and was busy foraging within the flowers. But the body is glossy, heavy and black which made me think ‘beetle’. The wings are fabulous – a gorgeous irridescent blue.
Anyway, a quick google has provided the answer – it seems that I have met my first Carpenter Bee. Apparently fairly common in France, they make their home in old rotting trees, live a somewhat solitary existence, and are not aggressive and rarely sting.
In France, they are called the blue bee or abeille charpentiere and its Latin name is Xylocopa violacea.