Carpenter Bees is making a splash in Monmouth County


July 01, 2021

Carpenter Bees is making a splash in Monmouth County

Submitted by Ruth Korn, RFD gardening club

That summer, for the first time since our family moved to Middletown, I found a new creature circling my raised beds of vegetables and herbs – humming loudly, a little angry. Many of my neighbors felt the same way. So I went to my computer to research this new event.

These creatures were tall with yellow and black patterns. They were about an inch long, and their bellies were shiny, black, and fat. They weren’t bumblebees because bumblebees have a hairy abdomen that allows pollen to cling to their bodies. A carpenter bee’s pollen falls on their shoulders due to the process they use in pollination. The males have yellow faces with a white point on the head. Women have black faces. They are often seen in the spring, with helicopters floating near the eaves, porch railings, and below deck – and in my case on the wooden raised beds in my garden. I found that carpenter bees are common worldwide, with seven species in the United States. They do not have hives like honey bees and are semi-solitary.

Carpenter bees are often referred to as “wood bees” because they dig into the wood. They do this not for nourishment, but to raise the young. The female carpenter bee bores a canal or corridor in wood from 6 inches to 4 feet in length. This allows them to lay their eggs in divided areas called “galleries” or “cells”. The female lays an egg in each cell and then brings pollen for the newly hatched larvae to eat. The cell is sealed before the process is repeated again. Although they are wood-boring insects, science does not consider them a true structural pest. They are not spread over an entire structure and prefer unpainted or finished wood. Bumblebees, on the other hand, nest on the ground and behave differently from carpenter bees.

As I was researching the realm of the carpenter bees, I discovered that scientists and researchers believe that these insects do more good than harm, and therefore we don’t need to kill them. According to Brannen Basham in Spriggly’s Beescaping, carpenter bees are amazing native pollinators and an important part of the ecosystem. They pollinate flowers, feed birds and increase the yield of certain plant species. Yes, they dig up wood for nests, but it happens along the grain of the wood and that causes surprisingly little structural damage.

Whit Gibbons of the University of Georgia’s Savannah River Ecology Laboratory tells us that men sometimes appear aggressive and even seem to threaten someone by buzzing and flying in front of the person’s face. However, the males are completely harmless as only the females have a stinger.

Carpenter bees have the ability to vibrate their flight muscles at specific frequencies while visiting flowers. This is known as “buzz pollination” and it vibrates the flower and loosens pollen. Tomatoes, blueberries, eggplants, and cranberries all benefit from pollination by Buzz. Honey bees do not have this ability. Carpenter bees can recognize each other and, if they are up to seven miles away, can find their way home.

Basham said that if our forests are cut down and cared for, carpenter bees will have fewer opportunities to nest – and you can understand why wood on houses, patios and barns is inviting to these creatures. Fortunately, there are a few ways to make your property less attractive. Properly staining and / or painting exposed wood on your property is paramount. It doesn’t guarantee the bees won’t move in, but it’s less likely if no untreated wood is visible. Second, try to provide another possible nesting site nearby, e.g. B. a pile of wood or a dead tree. These bees prefer pine and cedar over other species, so these woods are not a good choice for your home.

With this information, pause for a moment to see and hear this busy pollinator’s live action nature show. That is the advice of the University of Georgia and other experts in the field. Just think of the beautiful flowers and vegetables you will have because they do what they are supposed to do: pollinate your garden.

Garden Club RFD is a member of the Garden Club of New Jersey, the Central Atlantic Region of State Garden Clubs, Inc., and the National Garden Clubs, Inc. If you have your knowledge of various areas of gardening and the use of flowers as well as the presence of others with similar interests, please contact Ruth Korn at [email protected]

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