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Charlotte NC 28203
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There are about 20,000 different species of bees in the world. Bees live in colonies and there are three types of bees in each colony. There is the queen bee, the worker bee and the drone. The worker bee and the queen bee are both female, but only the queen bee can reproduce. All drones are male. Worker bees clean the hive, collecting pollen and nectar to feed the colony and they take care of the offspring. The drone’s only job is to mate with the queen. The queen’s only job is to lay eggs.
Bees store their venom in a sac attached to their stinger and only female bees sting. That is because the stinger, called an ovipositor, is part of the female bee’s reproductive design. A queen bee uses her ovipositor to lay eggs as well as sting. Sterile females, also called worker bees, don’t lay eggs. They just use their ovipositors to sting.
Bees see all colors except the color red. That and their sense of smell help them find the flowers they need to collect pollen. Not only is pollen a food source for bees, but some of the pollen is dropped in flight, resulting in cross pollination. The relationship between the plant and the insect is called symbiosis.
Certain species of bees die after stinging because their stingers, which are attached to their abdomen, have little barbs or hooks on them. When this type of bee tries to fly away after stinging something, part of the abdomen is ripped away.
In several species, female Carpenter Bees live in tunnels alongside their own daughters or sisters, creating a sort of social group. They use wood bits to form partitions between the cells in the nest. A few species bore holes in wood dwellings. Since the tunnels are near the surface, structural damage is generally minor or nonexistent.
Carpenter bees can be important pollinators on open-faced flowers, even obligate pollinators on some, such as the Maypop (Passiflora incarnata), though many species are also known to “rob” nectar by slitting the sides of flowers with deep corollas.
Carpenter bees are traditionally considered solitary bees, though some species have simple social nests in which mothers and daughters may cohabit. However, even solitary species tend to be gregarious, and often several will nest near each other. It has been occasionally reported that when females cohabit, there may be a division of labor between them, where one female may spend most of her time as a guard within the nest, motionless and near the entrance, while another female spends most of her time foraging for provisions.
Carpenter bees make nests by tunneling into wood, vibrating their bodies as they rasp their mandibles against the wood, each nest having a single entrance which may have many adjacent tunnels. Carpenter bees do not eat wood. They discard the bits of wood, or re-use particles to build partitions between cells. The tunnel functions as a nursery for brood and the pollen/nectar upon which the brood subsists. The provision masses of some species are among the most complex in shape of any group of bees; whereas most bees fill their brood cells with a soupy mass, and others form simple spheroidal pollen masses, Xylocopa form elongate and carefully sculpted masses that have several projections which keep the bulk of the mass from coming into contact with the cell walls, sometimes resembling an irregular caltrop. The eggs are very large relative to the size of the female, and are some of the largest eggs among all insects.
They are sometimes confused with Bumble Bees.
Worker bees gather both pollen and nectar from flowers to feed to the larvae and other members of the colony.
Carpenter bees bore through soft woods to lay eggs and protect their larvae as they develop. Female carpenter bees will chew a tunnel into a piece of wood to build a nest gallery. The bits of wood she chews and deposits outside the nest are called "frass". The tunnel openings usually look about one or two inches deep, but they can be up to 10 feet long! These tunnels usually have several rooms where the bees hold their eggs and food.
Carpenter bees do not pose a public health threat, but they can do cosmetic damage to the wood where they build their nests. Carpenter bees are beneficial because they pollinate plants that are ignored by Honeybees.
Carpenter bees can drill into almost any wood, but prefer bare wood, so painting and staining wood can sometimes deter them.
However, they will sometimes attack stained or painted wood, and their nests can be hard to reach, so a pest management professional or beekeeper should be called in to help.