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Huge Bee Bumble or Carpenter


Summary: Even though that huge bee or carpenter bee is hovering over you, there's no need to take cover. You are you in no danger. Learn the difference between a bumble bee and a carpenter bee. 

Bumblebees and carpenter bees appear similar, but have distinctly different habits. Bumblebees have the potential to be a pest due to the possibility of stings, but they are also beneficial as pollinators and are not as susceptible to mites as honeybees. Carpenter bees are notorious wood boring insects, causing unsightly damage and weaken wooden structures.

It is suggested that painting wood will successfully deter carpenter bees, but if the paint coat is too thin, the carpenter bee will be able to bore through. Therefore, the exterior of the wood can be treated with a pesticide to discourage future bee activity.

These two species appear similar, but can be distinguished by the differences in their abdomens. The bumblebees have fuzzy abdomens and the carpenter bees have shiny abdomens. Because of their habit of pollinating plants and flowers, bumblebees are welcomed by farmers and gardeners. Even though they can sting, they try to avoid humans and unless they are threatened or the intruder is in close proximity to their nest they will avoid contact.

Bumblebees nest in the ground, often under a flat rock or similar structure. The queen over-winters in the ground and seeks a new nesting area in the spring. She lays eggs and secures pollen and nectar to feed the grubs after they emerge from their protective cocoon. After the workers mature, she spends more time in the nest laying eggs and the workers provide the food source. In late summer, drones and young queens are produced and the queens are fertilized by the drones. They fly off to hibernate and next spring the process is repeated.

Carpenter bees create nests in wood by boring holes into the wood and creating a chamber for their eggs. They don't raise as many young, but the damage to the wood can be extensive due to their tunnels which can extend for several feet inside a piece of wood. Due to this problem, these bees are disliked by homeowners. They don't often pose a threat for stinging as the female is very reluctant to sting and the male is not capable of stinging. Neither bumblebees or carpenter bees die when they sting.

There are ways to control each of these species. In the case of bumblebees, if they are not nesting in an area near your home or one you frequent, you may choose to leave them alone because of their beneficial characteristics. Carpenter bees on the other hand may have to be eradicated to avoid continued damage to wooden structures.

There are ways to discourage nesting of bumblebees without use of pesticides by keeping debris removed near structures. If you do have a nest where it is a threat to animals or people, it may require the use of pesticides to remove it. We suggest treating the nest with a pesticide dust and leaving the entry hole open. Doing this assures that the bee will pick up particles of insecticide during its daily activity.

Pesticides require great care in using and storage. Read directions completely and follow them precisely for safety and for best results. Follow directions for disposal of empty containers to avoid potential problems.



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