Eastern Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa virginica)
In this blog, we'll investigate these gentle giants:
- how they help the earth (ecosystem services)
- why you shouldn't be afraid of them
- a simple tip to ensure they don't burrow in your wooden structures
- how to invite them and other pollinators into your backyard
How Carpenter Bees Help the Earth (Ecosystem Services)
Our pollinators (insect pollinators, birds, bats) provide us with one out of every three bites of food. Carpenter bees provide value as "great pollinators of native plants, gardens and even some crops."
(Source: Jordan Terpstra in "Meet Ontario's Pollinators" at https://www.uoguelph.ca/oac/news/meet-ontarios-pollinators
Why you shouldn't be afraid of Carpenter Bees
Observe the Eastern Carpenter Bee in the video above. You'll notice that it sort of looks like a bumble bee.
However, its abdomen is black and smooth (looks glossy) compared to the furry abdomen of a bumble bee.
They are not dangerous!
"They patrol the territory zealously chasing away other males that venture too close. In fact, sometimes they chase away almost anything that moves, including surprised human gardeners. Fortunately, they cannot sting (only females have stingers), so there is nothing to fear and you can let them be."
(Source: Bee Basics: An Introduction to Our Native Bees by Beatriz Moisset, Ph.D. and Stephen Buchmann, Ph.D. A USDA Forest Service and Pollinator Partnership Publication
A simple tip to ensure they don't burrow in wooden structures
Just make sure wooden structures are painted or sealed and they will not nest there. Ignore pest control companies that make money to poison our pollinators.
The female uses her mandibles (jaws) to drill through wood. She creates tunnels which branch out into cells. She lays an egg in each cell and supplies it with pollen grains to feed her larvae once they hatch. Finally, she seals each cell with chewed pulp. After providing for the next generation of carpenter bees, she dies.
How attract to carpenter bees into your backyard
Help scientists collect data
Have you seen carpenter bees in your yard? Take pictures and post them and your observations at inaturalist.org to help scientists collect data on pollinators.
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