We all grew up believing in the notion that bees are dangerous insects that can inflict grave harm. Well, this may be true to some extent. However, not all bees are harmful. Take the carpenter bees, for example.
The male bees of this species don’t have stingers, making them entirely harmless. Bees play an essential role in the environment pollinating our ecosystem and ensuring the growth and productivity of most plants.
Knowing their sole purpose in life, bees would instead focus on their job than interact with or seek to harm you. That’s unless you rattle or provoke them, in which case you should be ready to face the female carpenter bee’s wrath.
Understanding Carpentry Bees
Because of their similarities in color and size, the carpenter bee is often confused with the bumblebee.
Carpenter bees also prefer domestic habitats instead of wilder environments, and you’re likely to find them dwelling in your backyard within your compound.
And if you are the type that grows plants and flowers in your home garden, they will be your neighbors for a long time.
When it’s time for the females to lay eggs, they will retreat into the hollow part f natural wood, where they will stay until the eggs are hatched.
So if you don’t want carpenter bees swarming up into your property and nestling on your wooden structures, pressure treat or paint them to discourage the unwelcome invasion.
This will also prevent your wooden structures from being vulnerable to infestation and damage. So many people often ask, do carpenter bees sting? Are carpenter bees aggressive?
We will attempt to answer these questions, give a clear difference between carpenter bees and bumblebees, how to identify them, prevention, and treatment for a carpenter bees’ sting.
Carpenter Bee Versus Bumble bee
Carpenter Bees and bumblebees share a lot of similarities, and they are also among the best pollinators. However, carpenter bees infestation can result in damages to your wooden structures. When comparing carpenter bee versus bumble bee, here’s how to identify the carpenter bee by its characteristics.
The carpenter bee belongs to several species of wood bees and is a member of the Xylocopinae subfamily in the genus Xylocopa. They’re also known by the name wood bees since they prefer natural wood as their habitat for laying eggs.
In terms of size, carpenter bees are smaller than bumblebees, usually measuring between ½-1 inches tall.
Carpenter bees have separated body segments with black hairless midsection.
Carpenter Bees can be black or black and yellow in color. The females are entirely black, while the males have a natural white spot on the head.
Carpenter Bees love to nestle on wooden structures and the home environment. The females are very artistic and skilled in carving out the home, which inspired the name “carpenter bees.”
Are Carpenter Bees Aggressive?
Interestingly, while it is the role of the male bees to guard and protect the nest, they don’t have stingers and are therefore harmless. But if you approach the nest, the males will aggressively buzz and fly at you, but they won’t sting you.
- However, the female carpenter bees can sting but only if provoked. The following characteristics can help you distinguish between carpenter bees and bumblebees.
- Carpenter bees have a shiny black hairless midsection, while bumblebees have thick and yellow hair on their abdomen.
- Unlike carpenter bees, bumblebees build and move around in large colonies and are very social
Carpenter Bees prefer wooden structures for a home, while bumblebees prefer nestling on the ground
It is the female carpenter bees that are skilled at nest construction. They’re also adept at creating tunnels inside wooden structures for laying and storing eggs. The females are programmed to die shortly after laying eggs.
Once the eggs hatch and develop into larvae, the larvae are sustained on pollen and nectar, called “bee bread.” Eventually, the larva matures into adults, continuing the cycle.
In the process of collecting nectar and food for the larvae, the carpenter bees cross-pollinate several different plants, making them responsible for balancing the ecosystem.
Can Carpenter Bees Sting?
Well, this depends on which type of carpenter bees attacked you. As we have already noted, the male carpenter bees are aggressive but can’t sting since they don’t have stingers.
However, their big size, loud buzz, and aggressive nature can be intimidating. It’s the females that have stingers, and they can only attack if you confront or provoke them.
This means that they can’t bite you either. They have small mouths used for creating nests and burrowing into the woods, hence the name.
The sting of female carpenter bees can be painful. However, there are over-the-counter drugs such as painkillers and antihistamines which can be used to remedy the pain.
However, if you develop allergies from the bite with adverse effects such as nausea, fainting, and difficulty breathing, you should seek emergency medical intervention.
Female carpenter bees’ stings contain venom, and since they don’t lose their stingers from a single sting, they can sting several times. One bee sting is relatively safe, but multiple stings can be dangerous.
Preventing Carpenter Bees Infestation
Since carpenter bees are among the best pollinators and, therefore, beneficial to the environment, the only way to avoid them is to prevent their infestation. Here are a few practical steps to take to keep these insects from your home.
Paint or pressure treat your wooden structures: Carpenter Bees love to nestle on natural wooden frames. Therefore, paint or pressure-treat these wooden places in your home or compound. The slick and slippery surface of the treated wood will make it difficult for the bees to nestle comfortably.
Block Entry Points: Carpenter bees are primarily active during the spring season when they move around looking for a nest to lay eggs. To keep them away from your home, close your doors and gates to keep them off
Cover all foods that attract bees: Carpenter bees, like all bees, love sugary foods. Keep such foods stored away or covered and seal off trash bins in and outside the home.
Use a noise machine: Carpenter bees are sensitive to noise and all forms of disturbance. A noise machine will disturb their peace and concentration, causing them to fly away. You can use a boombox to achieve this.
Cover holes on exposed wood: Wood surfaces with holes attract carpenter bees. These are the perfect spots for them to build their nests. To keep them off, treat the wood surfaces with chemicals or by painting them. Alternatively, cover the holes with steel wool or pieces of rags.
Use citrus or almond oil: Citrus and almond oil are natural carpenter bee repellents. Spraying these near the bees’ habitat will cause them to relocate to another place. However, be careful when approaching the nests and wear protective gear to avoid being attacked by the female carpenter bees.
Symptoms Of A Carpenter Bees Sting
When you are stung by a bee, the stinger injects dangerous venom into your skin, which results in an immune reaction. A bee sting can cause varying reactions in different people.
The seriousness of symptoms depends on the degree of the reaction, e.g., you may have a mild reaction, a moderate one, or in extreme cases, a more severe allergic reaction.
Symptoms of a bee sting are the same as that of a wasp but more severe than a mosquito bite. A mild allergic reaction can cause the following symptoms:
- Sharp burning pain at the target spot
Mild reactions typically subside after a few hours of being stung, followed by improved pain, redness, and swelling.
However, a moderate allergic reaction from a carpenter bee sting can take up to a week before the redness and swelling subside.
Treating Carpenter Bees Sting
Carpenter bee stingers are venomous. When stung by a carpenter bee, you’ll most likely feel a sharp pain followed by a burning sensation on the spot where the sting landed the surrounding skin areas.
Since carpenter bees retain their stingers after the attack, there won’t be any stinger to remove from the skin.
However, you should seek immediate treatment if you were stung by a carpenter bee to minimize the effects of an allergic reaction. Here’s how to treat a carpenter bee sting:
- Minimize the risk of infection by cleaning the area with lukewarm water and soap. Rinse the skin gently and thoroughly, then pay dry.
- To avoid inflammation of the skin or to reduce the severity of inflammation, use a cold gel pack, a cold compress, or a cold piece of cloth on your skin. This helps soothe the skin and reduces or prevents inflammation.
- To help you manage the sharp pain, use painkillers such as ibuprofen, Advil, or Tylenol. You can also consult with a physician on the proper over-the-counter pain medication to use.
- For complete relief, apply Benadryl or an antihistamine cream to contain the burning sensation and swelling. Carpenter bees can sting multiple times. Therefore, it’s best to seek medical intervention if you or your child was stung more than once.
As avid pollinators, carpenter bees play an essential role in balancing the ecosystem and are beneficial to the environment. However, a carpenter bee infestation can be a threat to you and your family.
This is especially true since carpenter bees sting and are also aggressive. So the only way to stay out of harm’s way is to implement the above tips to keep carpenter bees away from your home. In case of an attack, treat the sting using the above guidelines or seek medical intervention.