Carpenter Bees: What You Need to Know
When most of us imagine a bee, we think of a yellow and black striped, fuzzy insect. But have you ever seen a bee that isn’t fuzzy and yellow, but rather black and shiny? Then you’ve likely seen a carpenter bee.
These bees, which are about the same size as bumblebees, have long legs and a shiny black body. Some carpenter bee species have a yellow stripe on their abdomen, while others have a purely black or brown abdomen. One of the biggest identifiers of carpenter bees is their characteristic “buzz-saw” sound they make when flying.
Let’s learn a little more about these buzzing bugs. You can also check our blog on how bees are important for Eco System.
What are Carpenter Bees?
Carpenter bees get their name from their habits of boring into wood to make nests and lay eggs. These pesky creatures don’t eat the wood that they drill into, but they do cause serious structural damage. Carpenter bees instead feed off tree sap and any small insects caught in the holes they drilled.
Carpenter bees are very different from their bee relatives — such as honey bees and bumblebees. They do not live in social colonies like other bees do. The adults will remain alone throughout winter and when spring comes, the male carpenter bees fertilize female eggs. Once the female is fertilized, she will bore into wood to create a nice place to lay her eggs.
They also differ because they don’t make honey. Male carpenter bees fly around to collect pollen for their mates, and females usually spend their time preparing their nesting sites.
What Do Carpenter Bees Look Like?
The carpenter bee is a relative of the bumblebee, which means they are similar in appearance. But, there are some distinct differences between the two. For example, bumblebees are hairy and have yellow markings, but carpenter bees have slick, shiny black abdomen.
The physical features of a carpenter bee may vary slightly between the various species across the U.S. Eastern Carpenter Bees have sleek black bodies with yellow hair on their thorax while other species, like the California Carpenter Bee, have more metallic colors on their body.
Another identifier of the carpenter bee is its unique flight pattern. They tend to dart, dive, and zigzag, whereas bumblebees fly in a consistent straight line.
Do Carpenter Bees Sting?
Male carpenter bees can be extremely territorial, which is why they often hover close to people. But, you needn’t be scared of them. Male carpenter bees do not have stingers and therefore cannot sting. Female carpenter bees can sting — but they only do when threatened or in defense.
Habits & Habitat
Female carpenter bees chew circular holes through the wood to make individual galleries for their eggs and larvae.
As the female creates tunnels, she creates larger open areas where she can lay her eggs and her young can develop. She provisions her young with pollen and regurgitated nectar. It takes 36 days for eggs to mature into adults.
Unlike bumblebees, carpenter bees are solitary and do not live in nests or colonies. In the winter, adult carpenter bees live alone in the tunnels they created in wood.
Signs of an Infestation
The carpenter bee is a dangerous pest to be aware of. They can bore into wood and make holes, causing structural damage in homes, offices, and other buildings. They prefer softwoods such as pine and cedar trees, but may also inhabit hardwoods like maple and ash if other softer woods are unavailable. If your home or siding is made of these materials, you may be more at risk of a carpenter bee infestation.
Another warning sign for carpenter bees is woodpeckers. They eat carpenter bee larva, so if they know there are some in your home or a tree in your yard, they will start pecking away. Often, the damage caused by woodpeckers trying to get the carpenter bees are worse than the tunnels formed by the bees in the first place.
Getting Rid of Carpenter Bees
Carpenter bees can be frustrating to deal with. Because they are territorial insects, they won’t be happy about you hanging around their nests and they may sting you if you get too close.
If you wish to take care of them yourself, you can call pest control in Nashville. A licensed pest control professional will be able to remove the bees and ensure that none of them sneak away. They can also identify potential nesting sites of carpenter bees and help patch holes to keep them out.