Interesting Carpenter Bees Facts That Will Surprise You

Ritwik Bhuyan
Nov 18, 2022 By Ritwik Bhuyan
Originally Published on Oct 23, 2021
Edited by Lara Simpson
Fact-checked by Sakshi Raturi
Tropical carpenter bee rests on wooden fence.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.4 Min

Carpenter Bees are large flying insects that can be quite destructive in nature if you let them come near your property.

Carpenter Bees are often mistaken as Bumble Bees, but they are unique in their own ways. The name Carpenter is given to these bees because of their habit of building their nests by digging into wood surfaces.

Carpenter bees belong to the genus Xylocopa and have the scientific name of Xylocopa Violacea. These bees, Carpenter Bees, are part of the family Apidae and subfamily Xylocopinae. Carpenter Bees do not eat wooden structures, but they can damage the wood quite a bit as they drill their nests into them. The Carpenter Bee can damage wooden structures by excavating circle-shaped holes to make tunnels for their home. Honey Bees and Bumble Bees live in colonies; however, Carpenter Bees are not known to be social among insects. Instead, they make their individual homes in the wooden structures around your home, which often leads to structural damage.

The most common signs of an infestation by these pests are the smooth and round holes that the Carpenter Bees create into the wood. It is necessary for the house owner to periodically check the perimeter of the house and the property for damage and these Carpenter Bees hovering around. Carpenter bees love bare wood, so staining and painting the wood will help in pest control to some extent. This Carpenter Bee pest control method only works to a limit as sometimes the pest will also attack painted wood, but it is better to paint the walls rather than leave it unpainted. Prevent these Carpenter Bees from entering your premises by sealing holes, eaves, cracks, and crevices in the walls by caulk, keeping entrance doors closed always, and repairing all tears and eaves.

As Carpenter Bees prefer to bore holes for nesting throughout the homeowners' property, removing them is essential to stop the Carpenter Bee's damage to the structure. As the Carpenter Bees lay their egg clusters in the holes, the large larvae are born in the tunnels. The presence of woodpeckers is beneficial because they can excavate aggressively to find their delicious food within the bee nest. There are 500 species of Carpenter Bees found in the world, of which five species are present in the United States.

If you enjoyed this article, why not also read about what are crocs made of and birds that lay blue eggs here on Kidadl?

What do Carpenter Bees look like?

Carpenter Bees are similar to Bumble Bees in appearance but differ in many other things, including their habitats.

Carpenter Bees are black and yellow in appearance and measure around 0.5-1 in (1.2-2.5 cm) in length. The abdomen is shiny and black in Carpenter Bees, unlike the Bumble Bees, which have yellow hairs on their body. A Carpenter Bee has a bare and shiny abdomen, whereas the Bumble Bees have a fluffy thorax, head, and abdomen, and the belly is yellow and purple with a thin yellow band running down the thorax. The color of the thorax differs with different species of Carpenter Bees. Most Carpenter Bee species have yellow thoraxes, while others have a white, blue, purple, or brown thorax.

The abdomen of the eastern Carpenter Bee is similar with black and shiny coloration. The thorax is yellow in color and fuzzy. Males and females differ slightly. Males of the carpenter bee are known to have a yellow patch on the face, while the face of the females is solid black. Females also have stingers, and males do not possess that. However, they do not prefer to sting uselessly and only come in close contact if provoked. The carpenter bee species like the female valley Carpenter Bees and the California carpenter bees have colorful metallic bodies.

Do Carpenter Bees sting?

Although males of the Carpenter Bees show themselves as aggressive insects, they do not even possess stingers.

Adult males must protect and control other flying insects trying to feed on the eggs and larvae that the females lay. Males will hover around the porch of the house to guard the nests in the tunnels. Although adult males are responsible for protecting the entrance of their wooden tunnels, they do not possess stingers and cannot sting anyone. Adult females, however, are equipped with stingers but are not aggressive. They do not create any problems for the homeowners unless they are disturbed or come in contact. Only if someone touches or provokes the females, they sting. Do not be afraid of the presence of the bees, but do worry about the area where the Carpenter Bee's nest is present.

If a Carpenter Bee stings you, treat the area as soon as possible. Check if the stingers are still present on the surfaces of the skin. Keeping the stinger inside will cause more pain. Clean the area with soap and water and let it get some air. If the pain persists, take some pain medications. Carpenter Bee holes and tunnels need to be taken care of at the earliest before it turns into a pest infestation.

A Carpenter bee drills a hole in an old tree trunk.

How to get rid of Carpenter Bees?

Let us find out how to repel Carpenter Bees from your home.

It is necessary to set some Carpenter Bee traps as although they don't live in colonies; they can easily damage wooden decks, porches, roof eaves, and much more by poking holes in it to nest. Set up traps in the spring season where the bees scouting for nesting areas will get attracted and trapped even before making a nest. Using pesticides and toxic chemicals is an option to control these bees from drilling round half-inch holes in your decks, but there are always some better options to stop pest manifestations.

Every spring season, females start to emerge and search for new homes to excavate and lay their eggs. So in the fall and winter season, you can repair the holes and the tunnel in the old wooden structures by putting new ones instead. Repairing the damage from the old tunnel systems of Carpenter Bees is essential as the adults die off, and young ones and the larvae hibernate in the nesting tunnel system. You can pour in some almond oil and seal off the tunnel.

You can also use a citrus spray to protect the wood (Carpenter Bees eat wood) as it repels Carpenter Bees. Carpenter Bees are known to reuse the drilled debris to build individual cells inside the tunnels. These cells are made for their offspring. This is where the eggs are laid by the female Carpenter Bee.

Life Cycle And Reproduction Of Carpenter Bees

The reproduction of carpenter bees is different in different regions.

Adults are known to spend the winter in brood tunnels that are already established. Then they emerge after the winter season and are known to mate in the spring. Female Carpenter Bees that have been fertilized bore into wood and make an individual cell for their eggs. They can build one cell or up to five or six, depending on the number of bees and eggs. Pollen is gathered from flowers by female bees, and this pollen is placed into the cell with a single egg. The entrance is then sealed with pollen and the egg inside. The pollen is the food for the larvae hatching from the eggs. It takes several weeks for the babies to mature. They come out of the female in the summer. Female bees protect the eggs, while the males protect the area.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for Carpenter Bees facts, then why not take a look at bee life cycle or caterpillar sting.

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Written by Ritwik Bhuyan

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English

Ritwik Bhuyan picture

Ritwik BhuyanBachelor of Arts specializing in English

A skilled content writer, Ritwik holds a Bachelor's degree in English from Delhi University. He has refined his writing abilities through his past experience at PenVelope and his current role at Kidadl. In addition to his proficiency in writing, Ritwik has pursued his passion for flying by achieving CPL training and becoming a licensed commercial pilot. This diverse skill set highlights his commitment to exploring multiple fields. Ritwik's experience in the aviation industry has provided him with a unique perspective and attention to detail, which he brings to his writing.

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