Many creatures come out of hibernation in the spring, and bees are no exception. Starting in April and May, you might notice particularly large and shiny bees buzzing around your porch, deck, shed, fence posts and trees. The mysterious appearance of perfectly round bore-holes on your outdoor wooden surfaces seals the deal: you have carpenter bees. Before you wage all-out war on these insects, learn more about the pros and cons of having them as your neighbors.
Carpenter Bees Are Relatively Friendly
You may feel alarmed by this bee's lack of regard for personal space as they hover within inches of you or your pets. Fortunately, carpenter bees aren't likely to sting you. In fact, the males (which have white markings on their heads) do not have stingers and simply resort to intimidation as a defensive tactic. When one of these bees hovers in front of you, he's merely giving you an angry look; you're in no danger of being stung.
The females do have stingers, but they tend to mind their own business and aren't likely to get aggressive and sting you just for passing by. However, if you try to catch one in your hand, you might provoke it to sting in self-defense, so it's best to observe them from a respectful distance.
Carpenter Bees Play a Helpful Role as Pollinators
Although we hear a lot about the crucial role of honey bees as pollinators for our food and ecosystem, we can thank carpenter bees for their pollination efforts as well. According to the U.S. Forest Service, carpenter bees are especially helpful in pollinating vegetables like tomatoes and eggplants, plus a variety of wild and cultivated flowers using a technique called "buzz pollination." After landing on a flower, the vibration from their thoracic muscles shakes pollen to and from their bodies, allowing the flowers' DNA to be transferred for ample fruiting.
Carpenter Bees Build Tunnels in Wood
Here's the major disadvantage of carpenter bees: they can cause a lot of damage. These are relatively solitary bees, so each female chews her own personal networks of tunnels into wood in order to lay her eggs and store her food. Carpenter bees do reuse old tunnels, but continuously chew new "rooms." Because the tunnels typically have just one entrance and exit, the extent of the damage can seem relatively minor until the wood splits apart to reveal how much the bees have carved into it.
You Can Discourage Carpenter Bees and Prevent Further Damage
An ideal approach to carpenter bee control strikes a balance between preventing structural damage while also allowing these pollinators to continue their important work in the ecosystem. Options include treating and closing existing tunnels, setting up bee traps, and painting or treating exposed wood to prevent new bee residents. You can also set up a sacrificial wooden structure to give carpenter bees a suitable home near your vegetable garden. To develop a personalized carpenter bee game plan in Charlotte, NC, contact our team at Thomas Pest Control.