There’s an odd view that favors honey bees over their other buzzing cousins. This is logical since honey bees produce honey, bees wax and pollinate a huge portion of the plants we use and eat. But what about carpenter bees? Why aren’t they getting that much love? More specifically, why are carpenter bees a problem?
Carpenter bees have a bad reputation for being “destructive bees”.
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They drill into wood
Carpenter bees are generally non-aggressive. They pollinate a large variety of flowers and only attack when provoked. Still, a lot of homeowners don’t like the idea of having them around. And the number one reason for that is their destructive nesting habits.
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Carpenter bees got their name from their tendency of “using wood” to build their homes, just like human carpenters. However, their idea of building means drilling into wooden parts of our houses and possibly compromising their durability and structure.
Unlike termites, these winged insects don’t eat the wood they chew into. They just carve through it with their mandibles and make 1/2-inch diameter tunnels for nesting. On the outside, the entire nest is represented by one tiny circular hole. But inside, those tunnels will eventually turn into a small network of chambers that will house many young carpenter bees in the future.
In contrast to honey bees, carpenter bees don’t operate with hives. They’re solitary, with nests composed mainly of a few larvae and one mother. However, there are instances where there are multiple nests in the same wooden structure, forming a simple social network with no leader or queen just mothers and daughters working together for food and security.
A carpenter bee’s wooden nest can be found anywhere in a house, inside walls, beams, decks and even in ornamental wooden properties. Over time, too many nests in one wooden structure will cause its degradation, inviting other pests, growing mold and even accumulating moisture inside. And repairing it can cost a fortune.
They can cause allergies
Of course, we can’t talk about bee problems without including allergies.
Although it’s rarely deadly, allergies that stem from bee stings shouldn’t be taken lightly. After all, they cause extreme discomfort and possibly even other medical conditions, especially for cases involving kids.
According to Mayo Clinic, bee stings can produce many reactions. These range from mild pain to severe allergy symptoms. And they differ each time you get stung.
The most severe reactions can involve large hive breakouts, difficulty breathing, a weak or rapid pulse, a swollen tongue and throat, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and even fainting. Accordingly, people who always experience these symptoms have a 30% to 60% chance of having anaphylaxis the next time they get stung, shedding a dangerous light on carpenter bees as well as other bees.
However, it’s important to note that male bees can’t sting. They’re physically unable to do it because they don’t have actual stingers in the first place. The most that they can do is hover over you and intimidate you to leave.
Female bees, on the other hand, are different. Although not that hostile, they can sting multiple times if they’re provoked. And unlike honey bees, their stingers don’t get pulled out after piercing through skin. This means that they can really go after you if you remain in their attack range or if you’re near their nest.
So what’s the takeaway?
The possible allergic symptoms that carpenter bees can inflict and the amount of house damage they can cause aren’t like the deadly consequences that we usually get from other pests like fleas and mosquitoes.
So why are carpenter bees a problem? If we think about it, homes that have these bugs don’t suffer as much as they do from termites. And like all insects on Earth, they’re bound to cause some sort of allergy one way or another. So if you ask us, since all bees are essential to human lives, their ability to pollinate and the other advantages that they bring to our comfortable daily living far outweigh these “problems”. Indiscriminately killing them could spell more problems for us in the future.