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Cover illustration: How many eyes do you need?

Found throughout North America, the carpenter bee (Xylocopa micans) is a member of the order Hymenoptera, and resembles the ubiquitous bumblebee, but has distinct ecological differences. X micansis often considered a pest because it bores into wooden structures to nest, but it rarely damages the structure. Although this species serves a minor function as a pollinator, it is not as good as other hymenopteran species because this bee often bites through the base of the flower instead of sipping through the opening. If the bee chooses this method of feeding, it is not dusted with pollen. It drains the flower of its nectar, damages the flower, and does not distribute pollen to the next flower. Other ecological differences exist although these are relatively minor. For example, the males of this species fare better than some other hymenopterans since they overwinter with the female. Pity the poor male of the common bumblebee who mates with the female and then dies in the autumn.  These bees are not aggressive and rarely sting. The female lays single eggs in separate chambers, and the eggs are relatively few in number.  Their compound eyes, as seen on the cover photograph, reveal the clever solutions evolution has developed to solve the problems of maximising visual acuity in small creatures. Unfortunately, this solution, which utilises a compound eye, has also restricted the maximum size the insect can realise. …

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