Sure, honey bees are appreciated because of all the honey and beeswax that they make. But what about carpenter bees? Do they do beneficial things that we should be thankful for? What are carpenter bees good for anyway?
We’re glad you asked. The answer may shock you. After reading this, you might change your mind about them. After all, the good they’re doing actually outweighs that small hole they tore into your wall.
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They help with gardens and landscapes
This doesn’t really need to be explained. After all, one of the reasons why carpenter bees moved into your house was because of the flowers nearby.
Carpenters fly from one plant to another, collecting nectar. With their hairy bodies, they pick up pollen and transfer them to another flower. As pollinators, carpenter bees don’t discriminate when it comes to what kind of bloom they should land on. They’re considered generalists, helping countless species of flowering plants reproduce.
Being excellent pollinators, carpenter bees are credited for their contribution to many colorful gardens and landscapes that put tourists, artists and even the random bystander in awe.
They help produce medicinal plants
Before modern hospitals and clinics, herbs and medicinal plants were used by ancient humans to cure sickness and promote good health. Now, a lot of medicines are made from those same plants.
So where do the carpenter bees fit into all of this?
Carpenter bees are sometimes called “obligate pollinators”. This means that the some of the plants they visit rely entirely on them to reproduce. And a few of these plants are, yes, medicinal.
For example, the Maypop (Passiflora incarnata) isn’t pollinated by any other insect. It generally needs carpenter bees to reproduce. Otherwise, it would decrease in numbers and possibly go extinct.
Maypop is a fast-growing perennial that has been linked to substances that can help humans cope with anxiety disorders, although this has not been thoroughly researched yet. The plant can also be an active ingredient in making sedatives, anticoagulants, antiplatelets and Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs).
And of course, they help grow agricultural plants
With everything that’s been said about the carpenter bee’s contributions to us, the most important is probably being able to help with food production.
We depend on pollination for food, and bees are at the forefront of this. Carpenter bees, in particular, contribute a huge 15% of the $29 billion value of all the pollinated edible plants we make. They help with plants like berries, melons, stone trees, broccoli, tomatoes and so much more.
Research from the University of Haifa in Israel even cited the carpenter bee’s ability to effectively pollinate greenhouse crops.
According to the study, a carpenter bee called Xylocopa can pollinate the fruits and vegetables that we grow inside greenhouses. And they do this exceptionally.
They choose to land on a large variety of fruits and vegetables and have long seasons of being active. They can tolerate high heat inside the greenhouse and can work under low light. These extraordinary characteristics make them good partners for agriculture.
So, before you head on to your garage to come up with some way to get rid of the carpenter bees living in your house, ask yourself; “ What are carpenter bees good for? ”
Remember that all the good they’re doing far outweighs the small damage they do to houses. In fact, the benefits they bring directly affect everything we do in our daily lives.