Another aptly named bee, carpenter bees construct their nests in wood. They vibrate their bodies as they rasp their mandible against the wood, a sound which can actually be heard by humans. Their nests have a single entrance but may have many tunnels adjacent to it. The entrance is often a perfectly circular hole measuring about 16 millimeters and can be found on the undersides of beams, benches, or even tree limbs. Although you may see sawdust outside the holes of their nests, these bees do not eat the wood. Like most other bees, they feed on nectar and pollen from plants.
Similar to bumble bees in both size and appearance, they can be distinguished from their fuzzy bee cousins by their shiny black abdomen. Unlike honey or bumble bees, they are typically solitary bees and do not form large colonies, although small family groups may live in the same nest for a time.
Male carpenter bees are often seen hovering near nests and will often approach nearby animals or humans. This can be intimidating but the males are completely harmless – they don’t have a stinger! Female carpenter bees are capable of stinging, but like bumble bees, they are extremely docile and rarely sting unless directly provoked.
Controlling Carpenter Bees
While these bees don’t have as much risk associated with them as other, more aggressive bees, they can cause serious structural damage if not controlled. Carpenter bees prefer weathered and unworked wood for their nests, so one easy way to deter them is to paint or pressure-treat the wood around your home. However, if these bees have already made a home of your home, dust treatments are the most effective option. It is also important to seal the bees’ entrance after treatment, to prevent further damage from the elements and to ensure that no new bee family can move in.
DID YOU KNOW?
There are some 500 different species of carpenter bees!