Friend or Enemy

Everyone seems to like the mason bee but all I here about the carpenter bee would need bleeping before printing. For the last few days I have seen a few picky honeybees acting like they are to good to visit anything but my blueberries and then I look over and see Hulk (carpenter bee) on a apple flower and then a pear and then back to an apple. When he lights he is so heavy the limb bends but doesn’t break. He goes everywhere he wants to with no remorse and at a record pace almost like a rocket engine is attached behind him. Glad to see him helping out with my pollination while the honeybees could care less. After watching in amazement for a while I walk over to my grands playhouse an see a pile of sawdust on the floor big enough to make any carpenter proud to blow from under his table saw at the end of the day. Bleep Bleep.


I like the carpenter bees, but they like to dig in the wooden facia of my back porch and leave frass all over the back steps…

They are really nice lumbering bees, though.


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We have mason bees with no serious issues (yes, they did scare my neighbor when they took up residence under her siding, but did no harm). We have 2x6 nests/hives set up for them and they seem to love them and do well with them. Pretty docile, really, and not the same as Auburn’s picture of Hulk, who is what we call a bumblebee. And yes, they do pollen duty for us very nicely.

Also have lots of little wasps and what not that can be seen in amongst the others. Hornets and yellowjackets are the main stingers around here, and not nice to mess with.

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Actually I don’t dislike them either but I need to paint the inside of the tree-house so they will stop drilling the holes. I was actually thinking about making the a house as you did. From what I understand their den hole needs to be 1/2". They are fun to watch and they appear to really help with pollination.

I’m not sure, Bill, but I think they like a 3/8" hole. A friend of mine supplies us with a couple every year, and then returns to collect them for the eggs, which he candles and distributes. He may sell them, but I don’t know. He lines the holes with paper tubes, which makes them easy to remove. I think we have a feral population now, but maybe they all moved over to my neighbor’s place.

But again, what you photographed for an earlier post was not a mason bee. Mason bees are about the size of a regular honeybee, maybe a bit smaller, but manage to look a little too much like a common house fly. It’s no big trick to get them established, though, if you care to!

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I get bumble bees which top out at about an inch and a quarter.

The carpenter bees I get don’t show up until mid-summer or so and are closer to 2 inches.

Are yours the same?


Scott, they are not the same at all. “Bumble bees” in my vernacular look pretty much like this:

“Orchard mason bees” are this crittur:

And I think this is a good example of a carpenter bee, which is easy to confuse with a bumbler but has a smooth butt:

Interesting, I think is that bumble bees and mason bees do not dig into wood, but Mr. Smooth-butt does.


Found these pictures online
Bumble Bee vs Carpenter bee


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I have a lot of carpenter bees and love them. They are pretty early here. They bore into part of my shed some, but they also do fallen tree branches I leave by the woods’ edge.

Once I tried to use a rake with a wooden handle I’d left leaning outside a really long time, and something bit the fire out of my finger! Sure enough, a carpenter bee was inside a hole she’d drilled into the handle :smiley: They aren’t supposed to sting, but this felt like an enormous pinch, lol.