The carpenter bee is often confused with the bumblebee. A simple way to distinguish one from the other is to look at the lower half of the body (abdomen). A carpenter bee is usually all black and slightly polished, while the Bumblebee has wide, bright gold bands with a trace of black separating the bands. The carpenter bee has a large black dot on its upper body (thorax), that is covered with golden hairs. The bumblebee has a narrow thorax covered with golden hairs.
Indeed, the carpenter bees generally resemble bumblebees in size and in color, being black, metallic bluish or greenish black to purplish blue. Some males have yellowish areas on the face. Both sexes may have pale or yellowish pubescence on the thorax, legs or abdomen, but these hairs are not as abundant or as intensely colored as in bumblebees. Large carpenter bees are readily distinguished from bumblebees primarily by the absence of pubescence on the dorsum of the abdomen, that is somewhat shiny. They also lack a malar space (present in bumblebees), and the triangular second submarginal cell. The two species of Xylocopa that occur in the coastal region are the only species in the eastern United States, namely X. micans Lepeletier and X. virginica (Linnaeus).
Its preferred habitat is woods, fields, near houses and barns; with nests in wood.