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Bumblebee vs Carpenter Bee

Last Updated: 16.04.24

 

More and more people are looking for the best carpenter bee traps because they see a lot of them near their homes. But how dangerous are they? Do you really have a problem with carpenter bees or are they actually bumblebees? 

Because carpenter bees and bumblebees are similar, many people can not tell the difference. However, if you pay a closer look, you will be able to see that they are not so similar and, after you have finished reading this article, you will be able to tell the difference very easily.

Bees are amazing creatures and it is a pity that not everybody knows just how interesting they are in terms of social life and how much of a difference they make to our environment. It is a fact well known that without bees, life on earth would be impossible, and the more you know about them, the richer you will become.

 

Is it a carpenter bee or a bumblebee?

As we have said before, carpenter bees and bumblebees might be similar, but there are some important differences in terms of appearance that will allow you to tell on the spot what kind of a bee you are dealing with. 

 

  • Bumblebees

Bumblebees are very cute if you observe them closely, especially because they look chubby due to all the pile that they are covered in. The pile is actually hair, but it is very very tiny, making the bumblebee look like a tiny fatty plush toy. 

This pile has the role of gathering pollen which will stick to it and it will allow the bumblebee to bring home a lot of nutrients. In terms of color, you could say that the bumblebee is a real fashionista, as half of it is blond and half is chocolate. 

Well, not quite, it is yellow and dark brown, but close enough. Some bumblebees have the tail colored differently and it can range from white to red. Bumblebees also have a proboscis (a sort of tongue) that has the role of gathering pollen.

 

  • Carpenter bees

Carpenter bees are a little bit different and one of the main differences in terms of appearance is their size. While a bumblebee can measure between 0.75 inches to 1.5 inches, a carpenter bee measures between 1 inch and 3.5 inches. However, carpenter bees seem a little bit thinner than bumblebees.

This is because bumblebees are furry all over their bodies and carpenter bees only have hair on their thorax while the rest of their body is smooth. A carpenter bee actually looks like it is wearing a cropped yellow fur vest that has a hole exactly in the middle where their bodies are black.

However, if you compare the carpenter bee to the bumblebee, it seems like the bumblebee doesn’t enjoy waxing its legs which are covered in hair, while the carpenter bee’s legs are hairless.

 

Do they attack humans?

In the introduction of this article, we have mentioned that bees are social creatures. However, carpenter bees make an exception as they prefer the solitary life. This doesn’t mean that they will not procreate – they will have babies, but they do not have colonies to which they belong.

Even if this seems to have no connection to the question here, if they attack humans or not, it is an essential aspect. Because they do not have a colony to protect, they don’t attack humans and there have been very few cases registered of a carpenter bee stinging a human being. The male doesn’t even have a stinger.

Even though bumblebees are cuter than carpenter bees, a bumblebee sting is more common than a carpenter bee sting because bumblebees live in colonies and they sting if they feel that their colony is threatened. However, they do not attack unless they feel like they are in danger. 

The problem is that a bumblebee can sting multiple times because its stinger will not detach. The sting is not dangerous, but some people might be allergic to the venom.

 

How do they nest?

Because they are solitary, carpenter bees do not have a big nest because they need room only for the female, the male, and a few baby-bees. The female carpenter bee has mandibles which help her carve tunnels in wood, this is why carpenter bees prefer wood to build their nest. Also, they can build their own nest from scratch.

This is the main reason why carpenter bees are considered pests because they can damage houses made of wood and many people want to get rid of them even though they are not that dangerous to humans.

Bumblebees, on the other hand, prefer the underground. Their queen usually looks for places where she can easily build a nest and that happens in places where she can find moss. Compared to carpenter bees, they are a little bit clumsy when it comes to building their nest from zero, so it is a must that their materials are found easily.

 

Do they behave the same way?

Their way of life is quite different mostly because bumblebees live in colonies and carpenter bees live a solitary life. Bumblebees are more similar to honeybees, but their colonies are a lot smaller. The bumblebee queen can have up to 200 workers, which is not much compared to honeybees that can have up to 80,000 colony members.

The queen’s life is similar to a real queen’s life, but a bit lazier. All she does all day is sit in the hive and eat honey that the workers are gathering up for her. 

She doesn’t seem so nice, does she? Meanwhile, workers work just like honeybee workers and the drones have the same role as honeybee drones, which are males, and that role is of mating with the queen.

Carpenter bees, even if they don’t seem so nice in terms of appearance, are more similar to humans in terms of behavior. This means that they mate and live like a family composed of a female carpenter bee, a male carpenter bee, and their babies. The male and the female die at the end of the season. 

The female’s role is to lay eggs and find food for the babies and the male’s role is to protect the nest. Because it does not have a stinger, the male scares the predators using noise and size.

 

Should you get rid of carpenter bees and bumblebees?

Bumblebees do not harm humans in any way, especially because they are peaceful and their role is to pollinate flowers, not to attack. If more people would understand this aspect, the environment would have to win a lot from it. 

Carpenter bees, on the other hand, even if they are more peaceful than bumblebees, can damage wood, this is why most people want to get rid of them. There are several ways in which you can protect your home without having to kill the bees and this begins before the season in which they are looking for a place to store their eggs.

You can do this by covering all the cracks and holes that the walls of your home have. Also, you can apply repellent and a great time to apply it is from March till April because you have to do it before they use your home for nesting.

Another great way to keep carpenter bees away is to use paint for your home and not just wood stain because it has a higher repellent effect and the female will not be tempted to drill through the walls of your painted home.

If you have found a nest, a great choice is to relocate the bees, not to kill them. So if you find a bumblebee nest, you should remove everything that surrounds the nest and water the soil thoroughly because they like dry areas. This way they will eventually leave and find another home.

However, bumblebees are great especially if you have edible plants because they are great pollinators, and some people even use them as an alternative to chemical products because they will help your veggies, provide a great harvest, and will make your flower garden thrive.

 

Final thoughts

All bees are wonderful if you think of their way of life, but sometimes, it is best not to keep them very close to your home. However, bumblebees and carpenter bees are bees that will not harm you and have an important role in keeping our planet alive, so it is a good choice to protect them as much as we can.

 

 

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