When you’re being chased by a buzzing yellow insect with wings, determining which type of bee it is is probably the last thing you’re thinking about. However, as spring brings warmer weather and lovely flowers, it will also welcome pollinating bees. When this happens, you’re going to want to know how to prevent each type of bee from invading your property.
Bumble bees vs. Carpenter bees
Although the two types of bees look very similar, the carpenter bees are slightly larger and the upper area of their abdomens are shiny black and bare, according to the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture. The bumble bee is more colorful, with several yellow, black and sometimes orange markings and bits of hair. Similar to honey bees, bumble bees feed on plant nectar and pollen and are good pollinators themselves. Although they are known to cause damage to wood, carpenter bees do not eat it. In fact, they also feed on plant nectar and pollen.
Perhaps the biggest – or at least most recognizable – difference between the two types of bees is their nesting habits. According to Jack DeAngelis, PhD., of Living With Bugs, bumble bees nest in relatively small colonies, typically in the rich, ground soil. In these colonies, the work is divided amongst the bees – hence the term “worker bees” or, “busy bees.” Carpenter bees on the other hand, are solitary beings and build their own nests by excavating tunnels in the wood of homes and structures. They can cause damage to trim, doors and window sills. However, female carpenter bees may tend to choose softer wood such as fir trees in areas that are in the direct sunlight.
While the male carpenter bees are very aggressive, their bark is bigger than their bite. It is actually the female carpenter bee that can cause a painful sting as the male does not even have a stinger, reported the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture. Exactly like the carpenter bees, female bumble bees – sometimes know as queen bees – are much more dominate than the males. Female queen bees are twice as large as male bumble bees and worker bees, according to Clemson Cooperative Extension. These queen bees can inflict a nasty sting, unlike their male counterparts. Because they live near homes, carpenter bees are more likely to call for preventative measures. With bumble bees, people often only have to deal with them if or when they get stung.