What are Carpenter Bees?
Carpenter bees get An animal belongs to insects their common name from their habit of boring into wood. Carpenter bees do not eat wood but cause damage to structures by drilling circular holes to create tunnels inside the wood. Unlike other common bees, such as honeybees and bumblebees that live in colonies, carpenter bees are not social insects and build individual nests into trees outdoors or into the frames, eaves, or sides of buildings.
During the spring, people often notice large, black bees hovering around the outside of their homes. These are likely to be carpenter bees, named for their habit of excavating holes in wood, in order to rear their young. Carpenter bees prefer unpainted, weathered wood, especially softer varieties such as redwood, cedar, cypress and pine. Painted or pressure-treated wood is much less susceptible to attack. Common carpenter bee nesting sites include eaves, rafters, fascia boards, siding, wooden shake roofs, decks and outdoor furniture.
Carpenter bees name
Carpenter bees are named for their incredible nesting method: drilling tunnels into old wood. A common misconception, these bees don’t actually eat wood—they excavate it with their razor-sharp mandibles, leaving tell-tale deposits of sawdust beneath the entrance of their nest. They prefer bare, unpainted, or weathered softwoods, and are especially fond of redwood, cedar, cypress, and pine.
Carpenter bees Description
Carpenter bees are about 1/2 to 1 inch long and robust. They look like bumble bees, but the top of the abdomen is bare and shiny. Bumble bees have a hairy abdomen. Carpenter bees bore into wood particularly porch, garage and shed ceilings and trim, railings, decks, etc. The resulting holes are almost a perfect circle about a 1/2 inch across. Inside the tunnels will branch repeatedly. Carpenter bees do not eat the wood they tunnel in. They feed on pollen and nectar. The female carpenter bee has a dark face and can sting, but seldom does. The male has a yellow face, and may buzz or fly aggressively around your head and home, but cannot sting.
Biology and Habits of Carpenter bees
Carpenter bees do not live in colonies like honeybees or bumblebees. The adults overwinter individually, often in previously constructed brood tunnels. Those that survive the winter emerge and mate the following spring. Fertilized female carpenter bees then bore into wood, excavating a tunnel to lay their eggs. The entrance hole in the wood surface is perfectly round and about the diameter of your little finger. Coarse sawdust may be present below the opening, and tunneling sounds are sometimes heard within the wood. After boring in a short distance, the bee makes a right angle turn and continues to tunnel parallel to the wood surface. Inside the tunnel, about five or six cells are constructed for housing individual eggs. Working back to front, the bee provisions each cell with pollen (collected from spring-flowering plants) and a single egg, sealing each successive chamber with regurgitated wood pulp. Hatching and maturation occurs over several weeks, with the pollen serving as a food source for the developing larvae. Later in the summer, the new generation of adult bees emerge and forage on flow
What do carpenter bees eat?
carpenter bees, when visiting flowers, often act as ” nectar thieves “, can pierce flower tubes with their jaws, and their powerful proboscis allows them to suck nectar through them. However, in large-flowered Fabaceae such as Wisteria and Grasses, they use classical access and therefore act as pollinators. The species found in Europe feed on the nectar of various plants ( polythecticism ), but they have a preference for Fabaceae and Labiées.
In North America, they are particularly fond of Fabaceae and Salvia; Passiflora incarnata and the Orphium genus are pollinated only by some woodpecker Xylopods. When pollen is collected, they carry it with the brush of their hind legs, but especially in their cultivation. Equipped with a comb in the upper jaw, they collect and swallow pollen from the hair on the front legs .
Some species of Eurasian carpenter bees have a pocket inside the first tergite of their metastasis called ” acarinarium ” where some mites of the genus Dinogamasus reside in commensality. The exact nature of their relationship is not fully understood, although, in other bees that also carry mites, they are beneficial because they feed on nest fungi or other harmful mites.
Carpenter bees Life Cycle
Young adult male and female bees hibernate in the tunnels during the winter. They mate in the spring and set about to clean out and enlarge the old tunnels or to excavate new ones as brood chambers for their young. Each chamber is provisioned with a portion of “bee bread”, a mixture of pollen and regurgitated nectar, which serves as food for the larvae. An egg is deposited on the food supply and each chamber is sealed off. There are typically 6 to 8 chambers created by the female. The larvae that hatch from the eggs complete their development and pupate. Newly developed adult carpenter bees emerge in August, feed on nectar and return to the tunnels to over-winter.
Table of Content
Carpenter bees Nesting
Carpenter bees build their own nests out of dead wood, dried stems, or bamboo, which they nibble on with their strong jaws . Each species can show adaptations or preferences defined for particular plants. Only species of the subgenus Proxylocopa dig tunnels in the ground. Usually a single hole is drilled leading to a main gallery from which parallel secondary galleries can be deployed. This entrance hole is perfectly circular and measures the size of the species in question (about 16 millimeters for European species).
These bees are not xylophagous, they release the splinters out of the nest, the small pile formed often being more visible than the entrance hole itself. The individual brood cells are lined up one behind the other, separated by wooden partitions covered with waterproof secretion. A mixture of pollen, glandular secretions, and nectar in the form of bee bread forms the supply for the young and is stored along the cell wall.
The egg is placed on this bee bread, with the female trapped between the provisions and the cell wall during egg laying. The egg is relatively large compared to the size of the female and in this sense represents a record for insects . When the nesting site is complete, only the secondary galleries are closed, but not the main entrance.
Females never destroy septa to access immature stages. A tunnel is first dug perpendicularly with wood to a depth of about 5 centimeters and then rotates in the direction of the fiber at a right angle over a length of 10 to 15 centimeters. If multiple bees use a nest, it can be up to 3 meters long. If the nesting area goes undetected for several years, carpenter bees can cause substantial damage to the wood of some buildings or houses.
After one and a half to two months, pupation occurs without cocoon formation. The next generation is present very quickly, in temperate latitudes, there is only one generation. Carpenter bees fly for most of the summer and winter, alone or in small groups, in crevices, burrows, or in their nests..
Carpenter bees Social behavior
Females have a relatively long life and can cohabit with their adult offspring. Several species of African and Brazilian carpenter bees appear to have minimal interactions between successive generations of adults.
In Xylocopa pubescens , an African woodpecker, only one female occupies the nest in spring and breeds several larvae. Until her offspring matures, the mother feels lonely. After hatchlings emerge, they are prevented from returning to their nest until they have been fed. The mother builds and establishes new cells; their sons leave the nest after two or three weeks, but some daughters remain and one (or more) act as guardians, seeming to compete for this position.
Custody appears to be important and the mother-daughter colony could be temporarily described as eusocial, or at least the girls could be designated as temporary workers. However, it seems more appropriate to speak of the active bee (mother) and the inactive bee (daughter). The latter differ from the workers in ordinary eusocial colonies in that they are not long-term workers, do not seek food before mating and establishing their own nest or reusing their mother’s.
Young females also clean the nest and lick the cell walls, however, these activities seem to be a preparation for their own reproduction rather than a help. Some of the daughter bees’ nests, rather than being independent, are adjacent to the mother’s nest. Surveillance is shared by the occupants and is located at the common entrance and not at the secondary entrances.
Carpenter Bee Basics
There are several species of carpenter bees (woodpecker) in the United States, but the most common is the woodpecker Virginia bee ( Xylocopa virginica ). These insects are found throughout the Southeast but vary from Connecticut to North Texas and the West. Carpenter bees vary in size from about 5 ⁄ 8 inch to 1 inch and are very similar to bumblebees, but they are not the same.
Bumble bees ( genus Bombus ) nest on the ground, usually in abandoned rodent nests, and live in social communities. Carpenter bees ( genus Xylocopa ) are solitary bees that penetrate the wood. You can tell the two apart by examining the dorsal (upper) part of the abdomen. If it is shiny and hairless, it is a carpenter bee. A bumblebee, by contrast, has a hairy abdomen. Both are considered beneficial insects, as they are excellent plant pollinators . Therefore, removal of these insects should be avoided unless absolutely necessary.
Carpenter bees normally live for about a year. Each new generation is hatched in late summer, emerging from their nests in August and September to grow and feed, pollinating the flowers as they go before settling down in the winter and from hibernation. Survivors emerge in April and May to mate. The female carpenter bee digs a tunnel for her offspring. In each brood chamber, it stores food and lays an egg. After breeding, adult carpenter bees die in July, leaving the new generation to continue the cycle when they emerge a month later.
Most people encounter carpenter bees during April and May when they have only emerged to mate. During this time, male carpenter bees tend to float around nest openings, looking for receptive females. It can be quite disconcerting to be around them, as males also aggressively hover around people approaching nests. They can even fly right at you. Despite this great example, male carpenter bees cannot sting. Female carpenter bees can sting, but almost never do
Why are carpenter bees dangerous?
1-They can bite. Female bees can sting a person, but scientists at A&M and Auburn Universities in Alabama reassure that “It’s not a dangerous sting unless it’s touched. ” So don’t try to catch or kill these insects with your hands.
2-They can destroy buildings. Tunnels made by these insects can do a lot of damage to the wood. Entomologists at the University of the State of Kansas expl ican that “advances digging slowly, at the rate of an inch a week in soft, old wood”, but after some years of active work, these ambiguities yellow with black can reduce thick planks to dust.
3-They attract woodpeckers. Bee larvae are the favorite dish of woodpeckers, as they are able to feel this delicious food in a moment and begin to remove the larvae from the wood. Although this in the long run causes more damage to the wood.
4-They multiply quickly. A mature bee can have 6-8 young in one summer. A male bee can impregnate multiple female bees many times … so judge for yourself. A healthy and safe bee is able to multiply its litter in a single mating season.
How To Get Rid of Wood Carpenter bees
How can you stop carpenter bees? There are different ways to cause problems for them – poisonous fluids, sprays, and lures. But, the point is, wood bees prefer to live alone – so mass poisoning won’t be very effective.
So the best way to get rid of carpenter bees is to use traps. Wooden bee traps can vary – homemade and professional, ordinary and original. By reading this text, you will know how to cheat on your own and choose the most effective of the ready-to-use solutions on the market.
Top 10 Things You Should Know Before Facing Carpenter Bees
Carpenter bees (wood bees) are not humanity’s best neighbors. When spring is late, they appear in our homes, frighten our children with their aggressive behavior, and – most importantly – destroy our buildings. Furthermore, wood bees have a kind of “generation memory”, and they return to the wood chosen by their ancestors over and over again.
- Carpenter bees have more than 500 species and are the most common class of bees.
- These insects generally make holes in dead wood logs, wooden structures, and even bamboo.
- Bees don’t eat wood. They only make holes to lay their eggs.
- Carpenter bees burrow into the wood making a perfectly circular entry on the surface of the wood. The hole can be up to 16mm in diameter.
- A carpenter bee is easy to mistake for a bumblebee. Are very similar. But carpenter bees don’t dig in the ground. Also, their bodies are larger and not covered in hair.
- The male of the bee has no stinger, and cannot sting. But they scare people more frequently – they fly around and attack. Female bees stay on wood most of the time. The problem is that they “dig” tunnels and leave larvae.
- Wood bees are antisocial. They live on their own and must be eliminated one by one.
- Invasion of these insects usually occurs in late spring: they leave larvae in May or June. In August, their young appear.
- Their tunnels “face” the Sun. These insects rarely dig in the darkest parts of the house.
- Bees prefer undyed conifers, as well as red trees, cedars, cypresses, firs, pines. Scientists at the University of California in Agriculture and Natural Resources assert that carpenter bees avoid most hardwoods.
Helpful Tip: How to Identify the Male Carpenter Bees: Milie Davenport, from Clemson University, explains that the male carpenter bee has a white head, unlike females. So if you see this white dot you will know that this insect cannot bite you.
Control and Prevention of wood Carpenter bees
The best time to control carpenter bees is before tunnels are fully constructed. Liquid, aerosol or dust insecticides containing ingredients such as bifenthrin, cyfluthrin, deltamethrin or lambda cyhalothrin can be applied directly into tunnel openings. Leave the holes open for a few days after treatment to allow the bees to contact and distribute the insecticide throughout the nest tunnel. Then plug the entrance hole with a piece of wooden dowel coated with carpenter’s glue, putty, or another suitable sealant. This will deter future bees from using the old tunnels, as well as moisture intrusion and wood decay.
Wood Carpenter Bees Control plan
Your best defense is a good attack. Carpenter bees prefer to excavate untreated, unfinished wood. You can prevent carpenter bees from nesting in the first place by painting or varnishing the exterior of your home. If an infestation has occurred, you will need to use an insecticide to kill carpenter bees. Many professionals recommend sprays or powders, which can reach the inside surface of the intake holes. Apply the pesticide at sunset, when carpenter bees are less active.
For the insecticide to work, both the bees come in contact with it as they crawl through the nest’s entrance hole. Apply the appropriate insecticidal powder in the spring, just before the adults emerge from mating. Once you see the bees emerge, wait a few days before filling the nest holes with wood putty or filler. If you have not applied the insecticide before spring adults emerged, you will have to treat nests in the spring, and again in late summer, when the next generation of adults is foraging. In the fall, seal nest holes with steel wool, then close the hole with caulk, wood filler, fiberglass, or asphalt.
A professional pest control service is your best option, especially if you have a large infestation because they will have specialized tools that can penetrate deep into cracks. However, if you want to do it yourself, any brand name insecticide formulated to kill flying insects should work. If you prefer to use a natural remedy, there are several, including boric acid, diatomaceous earth, and citrus spray. You can also contact your local extension office to find out which insecticides are effective and legal for use on carpenter bees in your area.