Do Carpenter Bees Make Honey? The Answer May Surprise You


Carpenter Bee

With so many different types of bees in the world, it is common for people to have no idea what each one does. For example, a common enough question among the uninitiated is whether carpenter bees make honey or not. There is a common misconception that all bees make honey. In fact, it is only the honeybee (funnily enough) that actually makes honey. So, do carpenter bees make honey? No, carpenter bees do not make honey, despite there being approximately 730 species of these bees in the world.

Why Don’t Carpenter Bees Make Honey?

The main reason carpenter bees do not produce honey is not because they are not capable, it is because they are solitary bees. Solitary bees are aggressive foragers, but because they live alone, they would never be able to produce enough honey for survival.

If you consider the fact that a solitary honeybee can only produce a twelfth of a teaspoon of honey in its entire lifetime, it is clear to see that a large number of honeybees in a hive are required to make respectable amounts of honey. Carpenter bees do not live in groups, which is why they are not honey producers.

Are Carpenter Bees Good for Anything?

As they do not make honey, it is not surprising that some might wonder what the point of the carpenter bee is. In fact, there are those who would describe these bees as annoying pests, especially as the creatures spend much of their time boring holes into wood. However, you might be surprised to learn that carpenter bees actually have an important role in the ecosystem.

These large bees pollinate flowers and can pick up the slack during windy and rainy periods when smaller insects would otherwise struggle to move about. On top of this, carpenter bees are also a food source for many species of birds.

Carpenter bees can help increase the yield of some plants. These include, among others, cranberry, blueberry, tomato, and eggplant plants. They do this by using buzz pollination, which is where they vibrate their flight muscles when visiting the flowers of these plants. The vibration helps to dislodge the pollen and, ultimately, helps the plants to produce larger fruits in larger quantities.

Why Are Carpenter Bees Classed as Pests?

Carpenter bees are commonly found boring holes in wood. They do this to create nests in which to raise their young. They will choose a piece of wood and then begin creating a tunnel system within the wood. As you can imagine, if carpenter bees were boring holes into your home, it would become very annoying, and even worrying. There is a fear that if these bees were allowed to continue to bore their way through the wood, they could cause structural damage.

What most people do not realize is that carpenter bees actually cause very little structural damage as they create their nests along the grain of the wood. Damage to the structure of a building usually occurs after other animals, such as woodpeckers, use the initial carpenter bee-made hole as a way to get into the wood.

Misunderstood Creatures

The carpenter bee is a misunderstood creature and, as discussed above, is seen as a pest by many. However, despite their size and their loud buzz, these bees are actually quite gentle. They are not usually the target of predators because of their size, which has led to them being quite docile. The females can sting but will only usually do so as a measure of last resort. The males do not have stingers.

Since carpenter bees are solitary bees, they have no hive to defend. Instead, they are typically found hovering around flowers or nest sites. What is intimidating however is the fact that the male will fly at people at high speeds. This gives the impression that they are territorial or aggressive. The reality is that these fuzzy golden blond bees are merely inquisitive and pose little or no threat to humans.

Summary

Carpenter bees do not make honey because they are solitary bees, and the production of honey requires the efforts of an entire hive of thousands of bees. However, carpenter bees are important pollinators and essential to the ecosystem. They are capable of buzz pollination, which can help increase the yield of certain plants such as tomatoes and blueberries.

The carpenter bee is often seen as a pest due to the fact that it bores holes in wood in order to create nests for raising young. Nevertheless, carpenter bees rarely cause the structural damage that people assume they do. This is because they bore holes along the grain of the wood.


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Photo Credits:

  • Featured Image: Daniel Schwen – CC BY-SA 4.0
  • Blue Carpenter Bee: Joshhecken – CC BY-SA 4.0
  • Yellow-Banded Carpenter Bee: Enairam92 – CC BY-SA 4.0
  • Xylocopa pubescens: Gideon Pisanty – CC BY 3.0

Anthony

Anthony is a content creator by profession but beekeeping is one of his great passions.

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