Carpenter bees seem threatening due to their enormous size and deafening buzz, but they are pretty kind and vital pollinators in our environment.
Many flowering plants in our gardens, natural spaces, and farms depend on carpenter bees for pollination. In reality, native bees, like carpenter bees, pollinate up to 15% of our crops. However, carpenter bees are frequently regarded as pests due to the harm they cause to wooden structures.
We can safeguard artificial structures and these beneficial insects by learning about their behavior and selecting preventative measures considering their natural lifetime.
What are carpenter bees?
Carpenter bees are big bees that measure between 0.5 and 1 inch long. They have four wings, hairy rear legs, and little to no hair on their bodies. There are more than 500 kinds of wood bees, and they come in different hues. Some have a bumble bee-like thin appearance. Others have bodies that are glossy and crimson in the shade.
Softwood and plant stems with piths serve as the homes of carpenter bees. Most nests are made up of 6- to 10-inch-deep tunnels with a diameter of half an inch, which may also contain many brood chambers. While building nests, carpenter bees may buzz like saws, thus their name, but they don’t consume the wood.
Instead, they eat nectar while foraging on flowering plants, with the females gathering pollen for the ovules. Females put an egg on top of the pollen plug they have created in a chamber, then cover it with wood chips to close it.
For several sections per tunnel, a different plug of pollen is put after that. It may take three months for an egg to develop into a larva and then an adult. Adult carpenter bees generally spend the winter in abandoned tunnels.
Do carpenter bees pollinate?
Carpenter bees are crucial pollinators in native plant communities, gardens, and some crops, just like other native bees. They collect and spread pollen when they visit flowers and consume nectar.
In addition, a third of our food supply, including fruits, vegetables, nuts such as almonds, and seed crops, depends on insect pollination.
A value of roughly $29 billion is contributed by insect pollinators like honey bees to our agriculture sector, with native bees like carpenter bees accounting for about 15% of this total. The pollination of wild plants by insects is also crucial because it provides birds and other creatures with food.
How good are carpenter bees as pollinators?
Carpenter bees are good pollinators and comprise a good percentage of the insects pollinating crops worldwide. Native bees, like carpenter bees, contribute up to 15% of the total pollination of crops.
Carpenter bees are typically not a problem. However, the idea that they consume wood like termites is prevalent. That is untrue. Carpenter bee females will drill a single, hollow tube into the wood to use as a nest. They thereby drill holes into the wood but do not consume the material.
Additionally, these giant bees are the least aggressive among all bee species. However, the noise they produce while flying or gathering pollen and pollinating plants is misinterpreted as aggressive noise.
You might have a different perspective on this issue if carpenter bees have infested a portion of your property. The excellent news is carpenter bees always only resort to this if wood bees have tunneled onto your deck or another area of your house.
Giving them a better nesting location away from home, where they won’t be disturbed, is a simple approach to convincing them to move. Carpenter bees have very particular tastes and will choose an accessible nesting location above-treated wood, hardwood, or living trees. Carpenter bees could locate a dead tree to tunnel into and create a nest in a perfect environment.
The simplest solution to prevent carpenter bees from damaging your home or property is to install a bee hotel or other carpenter bee-friendly environment. This entices the bees from less-than-ideal nesting locations and enables them to nest calmly nearby where they won’t be disturbed.
Other pollinators and their effectiveness
Besides carpenter bees, the other pollinators include the following:
1. Bumble Bees
Crops and wild floral plants both rely on bumble bees for pollination. They are superior pollinators, especially at higher elevations and latitudes, because they can fly in lower light conditions and cooler temperatures than many other bees.
They can execute “buzz pollination,” grabbing a blossom in their teeth and vibrating their wing muscles to knock the pollen loose, and are distinguished by their spherical, fuzzy bodies.
Buzz pollination benefits many plants, including wildflowers and crops like tomatoes, peppers, and cranberries. The absence of bumble bees can have wide-ranging ecological effects because they are crucial pollinators.
Wasps have a bad image because of their aggressive nature. However, we wouldn’t want to live without them because they are excellent hunters. In addition, they are regulating pests and balancing insect populations, which is a fantastic benefit to all of us.
Many wasps lack active pollen collectors and have smooth bodies. In addition, most bees have branching, pollen-trapping hairs, while those with coats don’t, making them relatively insignificant pollinators of most plants.
However, while moving between flowers, they contribute to incidental pollination by carrying and dropping pollen grains.
3. Butterflies and Moths
Both butterflies and moths are important pollinators promoting ecosystem sustainability and agricultural production. Unfortunately, the number of butterflies and moths in the United States has significantly decreased, as has the number of other insect species.
Flies make up the most diverse order of insects, Diptera, with over 85,000 species worldwide. Many of these species are helpful flies that pollinate apples, peppers, mangoes, and cashews.
Flies don’t get much credit for being essential pollinators because they are generalist foragers. They also lack nests to provide for them and occasionally have bodies with thin hair. They are, nonetheless, crucial pollinators for particular plants.
Our bees indeed play a crucial role in pollinating plants, but they are not the only ones! However, if it means they must serve as the model species to raise awareness of the abundance of other insect life that resides with us, then so be it.