Carpenter Bees

carpenter_beeIntroduction: Carpenter Bees are 3/4 -1 inch long and are black and yellow in color. This particular bee bores holes in wood usually in the overhangs of the structure to create a nesting site. The holes are 1/2 of an inch wide, roughly the size of the bee’s body. The hole is generally drilled perpendicular to the grain for about an inch then makes a right angle turn. Carpenter bees are mainly found on the east coast of the United States.

Biology: Carpenter bees do not eat wood, instead eat nectar and pollen. Carpenter bees are very important pollinators of trees and open-faced plants. Carpenter bees are considered more of a nuisance by homeowners, but can do extensive damage to the structure over time. Carpenter bees have one generation each season. This particular bee will go dormant in their old nest during the winter and re-emerge the next spring and mate immediately. Males are short lived after mating. Female Carpenter bees do have stingers, but will only sting if directly attacked. Male Carpenter bees are harmless because males do not have stingers. Females Carpenter bees lay up to 20 eggs or as few as one. The Carpenter bee egg is the largest egg among insects.

Habits: The nests are made by the females only and she will re-use an old nest if the nest can be refurbished. Carpenter bee nest’s can easily be distinguished by the yellowish splats of waste below the hole. Carpenter bees prefer to chew into unpainted wood. Carpenter bees tend to avoid wood that is painted or well covered. The females will make partition cells inside the nest in the early spring and lay her eggs inside the partition. Each partition is sealed and the bees will emerge from the cell in the late summer and continue to live in the tunnel. This means the nest is inhabited by bees year round. Carpenter bees are very clumsy and tend to fly into objects, but are very strong fliers and fly miles at a time. The male bees will hover around the heads of humans as part of defensive move when their nest is approached.