Peek around and under the eaves of a building in warm weather, and you may notice the very large and quite clumsy Carpenter bee. These bees seem to loiter near wood surfaces, with the innate ability to drill perfectly round holes in any wood that they find- including your home!
Do Carpenter bees make honey though, or do they just drill holes everywhere?
While Carpenter bees do pollinate plants and flowers in the environment, they do not make honey. Carpenter bees are a solitary species that do not share the hive or the task of making honey with other bees. They prefer to drill holes and make nests in softwood, by themselves.
Keep reading to learn more about the fascinating Carpenter bee!
Carpenter bees are funny- they seem clumsy as if they could fall from the sky at any time. They are big- huge actually– and seemingly harmless to people and pets. However, all bets are off when it comes to the potential damage that these insects can cause.
Carpenter bees can be destructive to wood surfaces- drilling perfectly round holes throughout to nest and lay eggs. While nobody wants to hurt a pollinator that is so critical to the food chain, you also want to protect your home and belongings from the havoc that Carpenter bees can wreak.
While Carpenter bees resemble bumblebees, there are distinct differences. Bumblebees are hairy while Carpenter bees are not.
Both are bigger than honeybees, and neither lives in traditional hives. Carpenter bees are solitary, boring holes in softwood for a nest, while Bumblebees nest underground.
The wood surfaces most at-risk around Carpenter bees are timber, cedar, spruce, and pine- possibly the same materials your home and siding are made from.
Remember, however, that bees are important creatures, and it is worth finding other solutions before harming a bee.
Bee traps are successful in containing bees in jars to be released elsewhere, but who really wants to be designated as the one to go release angry Carpenter bees somewhere? A better solution is to not welcome them to your home in the first place- but more on that later!
Carpenter Bees and Honey
You heard it right: Carpenter bees do not make honey. Not all species of bees do make honey; some have other roles to play within their colony. To be a honey-making bee, the bee must be a member of the Apidae genus of bees.
It takes a lot of bees to make honey and a strong queen at the helm, overseeing the honey-making operation. This is simply not the style or the persona of the Carpenter bee. This bee is far more solitary and less inclined to get along well with other bees.
Making honey is social work that requires constant communication among the bees; Carpenter bees are not wired to work this way.
Yes, Carpenter bees forage for nectar and pollinate flowers or plants, but they do not actually participate in the process of making honey and storing it in beeswax combs. They leave this to the honeybees.
When it comes to the division of labor among bees, Carpenter bees spend their time foraging, pollinating, and nesting- which includes creating holes in the side of your house. They can get aggressive when under threat, but will not attack randomly so leave them be.
The Life of a Carpenter Bee
Interestingly enough, there are well over 700 species of Carpenter bees, but not a single one of them can produce honey. Carpenter bees are in a different category of bees, and their scientific classification is calledXylocopinae.
While honeybees are social creatures that are perfectly happy working in harmony with the other worker bees in a hive, Carpenter bees are more solo and independent. They do not live in communal hives, but rather drill nests in wood surfaces to lay eggs and raise their young.
Carpenter bees are foragers and pollinators, but they do not make honey. In this respect, they are distinctive and different from other bees that make honey, from the Apidae family of species.
As for the daily diet of a Carpenter bee, they generally eat the wood that they bore holes in. They do forage for nectar to pollinate flowers and plants, but they do not eat honey.
In the cycle of life, there are some animals that eat the Carpenter bee, and in this instance, their biggest predators appear to be different types of birds, like woodpeckers, as well as some mammals, like the badger.
Deterring Carpenter Bees
Again, you don’t want to harm a bee. Carpenter bees are excellent pollinators and extremely useful in nature, so treat them kindly. There are, however, some natural and non-invasive ways to curb Carpenter bees from damaging the wood surfaces around your home:
- Carpenter bees do not like almond oil. Drop this around the perimeter of your house to deter them.
- Combine a teaspoon or two of tea tree oil in water and use as a spray. Spritz on surfaces to deter bees, though it will not cause them any harm. Eucalyptus oil can be used similarly with effective results.
- Carpenter bees will stay away from anyplace that they detect a hive. Try hanging a plastic bag- put an empty one inside it, too, for bulk- under the eave or doorway. The bees will flee.
- Carpenter bees do not care for the vibrations and sound of loud music. Use speakers and your favorite radio station to send them away safely.
- Always seal and fill the holes that you find left behind by bees to deter future bees from moving in.
- Staining and painting the wood of outdoor surfaces can help keep bees at-bay, too. Unfinished wood surfaces are most susceptible to being damaged by Carpenter bees.
Like their close, honey-making cousins, Carpenter bees do a lot of good for the environment and deserve respect. While they do not make honey, per sei, Carpenter bees do pollinate plants, flowers, and crops that are integral to the global food chain.