Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Carpenters

As my landlord famously said, "Day divebomya!"

The male carpenter bees are very curious and defensive. They might even get in your business. This one, above, gets real close to my camera to check it out.

You can tell the males by the yellow-white marking between the eyes. The males don't have stingers, and the females that do are rarely seen. Those dive bombing bees are the males protecting their turf and fighting for mating rights. My mail carrier is much more comfortable with these guys now that I told him they don't sting.

Their aggression is usually directed at each other, but can also be directed at you or me, or other bugs in their territory. That territory is about the width and half the length of my front garden -allowing me to claim that they are guarding my plants, these sentries. You can see how the bee on the left is geared up for a strike against the other on the right, who's stance is more "casual." I find many bees on the sidewalk that have not made it through these battles (or so I presume).

It's tough out there, but you needn't worry about their aggressive posture -you are as likely to get into a scrap with a carpenter bee as a possum is likely to wrestle a man; interspecies battles being so uncommon after all.

P.S. My landlord has the wooden sill sprayed with some noxious chemical every year. It kill some, but they always come back. No, the hole carved into the sill is not good for your home, albeit only a couple of inches deep. Old holes are re-used, new holes are carved out. Use treated wood for your new sill, and properly flash it. Leave wood out in the yard if you would like to attract carpenter bees.


  1. Wow, those are great bee photos. I like how that one is right up on your lens. Cool!

  2. The head-on shot is fantastic. I can almost hear the bee doing his version of DeNiro's "Are you lookin' at me?"

  3. I have two terraces (ok, they're not MY terraces) where I'm plagued by these bees, both buildings have wooden watertowers. I know the aggressive males don't have stingers but they still freak me out when the dive bomb. They have NO fear!

  4. Give them enough time and they do cause substantial damage.

  5. Michelle, I agree- that's why we need to properly flash those wooden sills, and used treated for new construction.

    Ellen, Ha! You know I've seen these on rooftops with water towers by the dozens! I got to tell a whole party freaked out by them what they were all about and that mellowed people's attitudes a wee bit. They do divebomya!

    Hels, thats a what he was sayin.


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