What must you do about carpenter bees? | ECOVIEWS – Tuscaloosa Journal


A carpenter bee, shown here, has less yellow on its body than a bumblebee. Both are important native pollinators. [Submitted photo]

Q. We’ve seen extra carpenter bees this spring than ever earlier than. My barn and all my animal sheds are constructed with pressure-treated wooden, however these sky beavers are consuming up the rafters. Are you aware any technique to stop them from attacking my buildings? I’ve put out carpenter bee traps, however they’ve been ineffective. Is there one thing I can spray on the wooden that can preserve them off?

A. I don’t have a suggestion for a carpenter bee repellant. Nevertheless, I obtain comparable questions yearly, so the next ideas could also be of curiosity.

As an alternative of eradicating the shiny black wood-burrowing bees on our personal again porch, we watch them, hearken to them and in any other case get pleasure from them. Carpenter bees, which get to be about an inch lengthy, do not need the fuzzy yellow look of bumblebees, though they generally sport a two-tone look when carrying a provide of yellow pollen.

The ecology of carpenter bees is comparatively easy. Throughout spring, all through a lot of the nation, carpenter bees emerge from holes in pure or man-made wooden and search mates.

Male carpenter bees have a particular light-colored spot on the face and should typically look as if they’re threatening somebody after they buzz loudly and fly in entrance of an individual’s face. It’s simply an act. Male carpenter bees are fully innocent. Like different bees and wasps, solely the females have stingers. This in-your-face habits by the males might point out curiosity moderately than aggression.

Feminine carpenter bees actually chew a tunnel into wooden. I do know they labor at night time in addition to day as a result of I as soon as watched a gentle stream of sawdust trickle from the ceiling an hour after darkish.

The females typically select an already present gap. Excavation and reorganization could also be a part of the moving-in course of, very similar to somebody in a brand new condo would possibly paint the partitions or rearrange the furnishings. When guests sit on our deck immediately beneath a carpenter bee reconstruction undertaking, I confess to being amused as they struggle to determine simply what is occurring.

Carpenter bees are precious pollinators — females collect pollen, retailer it within the burrows and lay their eggs in order that the pollen serves as a supply of vitamin for the larvae. The grownup bees die through the summer time; the just lately born ones spend the winter within the beforehand accomplished holes.

Some folks’s response to carpenter bees confirms that our collective want to regulate our environment is usually pointless. Many state cooperative extension models present info on the best way to management carpenter bees with pesticides. Come on! Haven’t we realized by now that insecticides by no means kill simply the goal organism however many different innocent creatures as nicely? Apart from simply how dangerous is a carpenter bee?

Certain, I suppose unhealthy issues might occur. A feminine carpenter bee might sting you. However an individual typically has to seize one to be stung. The chance does exist {that a} feminine carpenter bee might fly up somebody’s shirt sleeve or get underneath one other piece of clothes and sting when it will get trapped. However is that sufficient of an issue to take invasive motion that can destroy the species within the space?

It’s additionally potential that sufficient burrowing over time might trigger structural harm that may weaken a porch roof. However since carpenter bees are inclined to make it easy on themselves through the use of holes which have already been constructed as a substitute of creating new ones, demolishing a whole construction would take quite a lot of burrowing.

Possibly our porch will finally fall down from the annual assault of the carpenter bees. We could have gotten appreciable leisure from these fascinating creatures earlier than that occurs.

To me the potential hazards of carpenter bees — and quite a lot of different animals that elicit concern in folks — aren’t price eliminating, particularly with pesticides. Why lose the chance to observe and listen to a live-action nature present produced by an industrious pollinator simply due to a bit of sawdust?

Whit Gibbons is professor of zoology and senior biologist on the College of Georgia’s Savannah River Ecology Laboratory. When you have an environmental query or remark, e-mail [email protected].

Whit Gibbons


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