Do Carpenter Bees Sting?

By Antonia Čirjak on January 15 2020 in Environment

Carpenter bee in the nature.

Carpenter bees or Xylocopa violacea, as is the Latin nomenclature for this species, are a type of bees best known for the way they nest. As the name suggests, carpenter bees create their nests in wood, and they prefer that wood to be dead. The only exception in this species is the one that belongs to the Proxylocopa subgenus, and those bees create tunnels in the ground where they create their living space. 

Females Sting, Males Do Not

As with every high-speed buzzing animal that you encounter, you are probably worried about the dangers that come with them. First of all, male specimens do not have any stingers on their tail, and therefore do not represent any danger. The only thing they can scare you, and they tend to be successful with this method is with an aggressive display of their flying abilities. Male carpenter bees will buzz loudly and fly around you if you ever approach their living area, and they feel endangered. On the other side, female carpenter bees are very much equipped with stingers and can sting you if you provoke them. 

Is It A Bumble Bee Or A Carpenter Bee?

One mistake people tend to make is thinking that the carpenter bee is a bumblebee (Bombus Terrestris). These two species are quite similar, almost identical in size and color. One thing that would always help you recognize a carpenter bee over a bumblebee is that it does not have any hair in their abdomen area. In other aspects, they are almost identical to bumblebees, and their body is covered in fuzzy black hair (sometimes with the added yellow stripe on their backs) 

tropical carpenter bee out of the hole created by the bamboo.
Tropical carpenter bee out of the hole created by the bamboo.

Carpenter Bee Is A Wood Eater?

If we continue to follow the clues in the name of this species, one could easily think that carpenter bees eat, or at least process wood in some way. None of that is true, despite carpenter bees acting and living like a lot of other insect species. They do not feed on cellulose found in wood as the termites do. Instead, they feed on plant nectar. Their young ones are being fed a specific type of food called ‘’bee bread’’, which is both produced and kept in storage within the wood. 

Life Habits And Importance Of Carpenter Bees

Carpenter bees come out of hibernation when the springtime of the year arrives when they engage in mating rituals. The way these rituals work is quite simple: the male carpenter bees will use pheromones to draw the attention of female bees. Once the fertilization process is complete, the female bee continues to make a tunnel in which they store 6 to 8 fertilized eggs. It takes a couple of weeks for the newborns to hatch, and it is all done with the help of the nectar mentioned above with which their mother feeds them. Finally, when young bees are awakened again in spring, there are two scenarios possible: they will either build a bigger nest or continue to reproduce in another mating season. 

One vital role of almost all bees, not only the carpenter subspecies, is that they are involved in the process of pollination. Pollination is something that needs to be done by billions of bees every year, and without them, the planet as we know it probably would not exist. However, carpenter bees do not participate in pollination just for our own sake. That special ‘’bee bread’’, which is used to feed the offsprings, is made out of both nectar and pollen. 

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