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Wait, What Are Carpenter Bees? What Is The Difference Between Carpenter Bees and Bumble Bees?

What is the difference between Carpenter bees and Bumble bees?

While the calendar says that spring doesn’t start until next week, the weather here says otherwise. With temperatures in the 70’s and long sunny evenings, the bugs are coming back. So when you see some bees flying around your house, it is important to know if they’re the problematic Carpenter Bee or their cuter cousin the Bumble Bee. 

What is a Carpenter bee?

Carpenter bees, named for their habit of boring into wood to create galleries for their young, are a fascinating and destructive species. With as many as seven different species found across the US, being able to spot these bees is important! Carpenter bees winter as adults in old galleries and emerge looking for fresh places to nest. This causes issues because they often tunnel into exposed wood and most house have some wood in their construction. As they tunnel carpenter bees are not eating the wood but chewing through it to clear it out. While these tunnels do not usually cause massive structural time, they create cosmetic damage as well as opening up the structures to rot damage with holes into the wood. 

What Do Carpenter Bees Look Like?

This is where most of the confusion comes from because Carpenter bees closely resemble Bumble bees. Thankfully there are a few key differences! While both species share similarities in appearance, the most notable distinction lies in their abdomens. Carpenter bees have smooth, shiny abdomens, whereas Bumble bees have hairy abdomens with a yellow band bear the end. In addition to their coloring differences, Carpenter bees are generally bigger than their Bumble bee counterparts.

When it comes to behavior, Carpenter bees are solitary creatures, unlike Bumble Bees, which form colonies or nests. During the spring months male Carpenter bees may exhibit territorial behavior and become aggressive towards other Carpenter bees or humans. These male Carpenter bees will engage in intimidating displays, such as hovering in front of faces or buzzing around, but the males lack a stinger! So while they may be aggressive, they are relatively harmless. The female Carpenter bees do posses a potent stinger, but they rarely use it. 

Differentiating Carpenter Bees from Bumble Bees?

At first glance it may be hard to tell the difference between the two, but there are some visual clues to look for. As we mentioned above, the most definitive difference will be the abdomen. Carpenter bees will have smooth, shiny abdomens, while Bumble bees have hairy abdomens with distinctive yellow banding. The next thing to look out for is size. While not as definitive as the body coloring, Carpenter bees will generally be bigger and longer than Bumble bees. The last thing to look for is their nests. Carpenter bees are relatively solitary and will make their galleries in exposed wood, but Bumble bees are social. Bumble bees will form nests in preexisting openings and there will be a number of them coming and going from the same nest.

What To Do About Carpenter Bees?

If you think that you have Carpenter bees, don’t hesitate to reach out. It can be frustrating to try and deal with Carpenter bees and their tunneling. If you think you have Carpenter bees, you can read more here. If you need help dealing with your Carpenter bees, call us at (864) 603-1404. We would be happy to have a member of our team come look it over for you! 

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