All about Carpenter Bees

Carpenter Bees, or wood boring bees, are often mistaken as large bumblebees. Though both bees are relatively harmless and help to pollinate flowers, carpenter bees can cause cosmetic damage to your home and other wooden structures. Differentiation between these two bees can be made through identification of color, size, and living habits.

Carpenter bees have shiny black bodies covered in fuzzy hair, while large bumble bees have black and yellow stripes and are the largest in size of the bee species. Carpenter bees are also oval in shape, with short, straight antennae. Male carpenter bees have black bodies with white or yellow heads and do not have a stinger, and are therefore harmless. Female carpenter bees are completely black, and though they do have stingers it is rare that a female becomes aggressive unless physically handled. If a female does choose to become aggressive then she may sting several times due to the fact that female carpenter bees’ stingers are not barbed and the stinger does not become unattached from the body after a single sting. Each bee is around 3/4th – 1 inch in length, about the relative size from a person’s cuticle to the first knuckle.

Boring bees are solitary insects and do not have a social lifestyle unlike honey bees or bumblebees which live in nests and interact with other bees. Due to their solitary lives, wood boring bees do not have queens, instead, after mating the females will choose to construct new homes for their offspring. Each female bee will bore a perfectly round hole in a tree, or in an unpainted wooden structure. These holes are too small to cause structural damage, only cosmetic damage. Once the initial entrance is made the female will then create tunnels that will be used to store eggs, and then the female will close up the tunnels with nectar to be eaten when the eggs are newly hatched. Carpenter bees do not eat the displaced wood, or “frass,” but will push the wood fragments out of the new nest, or even use the fragments in the tunnels as partitions to create rooms. Hatching happens in the month of August after 7 weeks of being laid. After a short growth period from larvae to pupae and then to full adulthood, the bees will go into hibernation for the winter, and emerge again in the spring between the months of March and April.

Carpenter Bees Beneficial Pollination Methods

Despite their habit of burrowing into wood in order to make their homes boring bees do not ingest the wood, instead choosing to live off of the nectar of surrounding flowers. Due to their large bodies, it is hard for Carpenter bees to fit into tubular or deep flowers, and often they will cut into the side of the flower to get at the nectar. Finally, carpenter bees will distribute the pollen through what is called buzz pollination, meaning that after landing on a new flower the carpenter bee will vibrate until they shake loose the pollen that has attached itself to the bee’s legs. Carpenter bees have been known to help pollinate flowers that often go ignored by other bees helping to spread the presence of flowers in a single area.

Call CANTU at 972-885-3618 (Dallas, Fort Worth) or 713-999-3495 (Houston) and schedule an appointment today if Carpenter bees have made an unsightly appearance on your home.