How can you tell the difference between a Bumblebee and a Carpenter Bee?
Read below and look carefully at the pictures so you may become familiar with some of the differences such as colour, body hair and structure.
The bumblebee is one of earth’s greatest bee pollinators. Other Ontario bee pollinators are the honeybees, carpenter bees, butterflies, beetles, flies and other species of bees. There are over 500 species of bees in Ontario and several thousand bees in USA which pollinate our foods. Here is a check list of some of them. This page deals specifically with two types of bees. The Carpenter Bee and the Bumblebee.
Many confuse the bumblebee and the carpenter bee. Both species are fairly large and look similar however, the bumblebee has a special colour on the top of it’s head and has a hairy abdomen. The picture above is a profile of a Bumblebee notice the hairs on the body and abdomen-it’s very harry.
The above picture is what the inside of the bumblebees nest looks like in detail. Typically they find abandoned mice nests which usually consists of the cluster of insulation, pillow filler, leaves or other insulating material. Once the mice have left been killed or other bumblebees will move into this available space. Locations typically consist of barbecue, under hot tubs, under sheds, old broken pool heaters, under a deck etc. This hive consisted of about 35 bumblebees and was found on the side port hole of a cement porch which acted as a vent for the basement fruit cellar. This is what we find and remove from peoples homes along with the Queen and potential eggs which may be converted to a new queen bee.
Notice the hair on the bumblebee abdomen its very hairy indeed, this is a subtle difference one may observe when they land or fly by
The Carpenter bee has NO hair on the abdomen, it is shinny and reflects the sun when flying. The habitat difference between Carpenter bee and Bumblebee is that the former drills/carves out a perfect .5 inch hole and each family will carve their own nest a hole in the wood plank for doorway or in a deck-they usually enjoy old natural unpainted wood. Whereas the bumblebee will live together with many families in the ground or vacated barbecue, in a electrical a panel where many of them can enjoy each others company. They are more of social bee compared to a Carpenter bee. It is very common to find 20-50 bumblebees in one colony and they can be found in a very small real estate. For example, the picture below shows multiple Carpenter bee nests and they will carve out the inside of the wood and maybe 3-4 feet of empty cavity however, they lay eggs and food for the next generation in these chambers. So if you use an exterminator chances are they will not kill the bees and what is killed will emerge the following year or in a few months. The new carpenter bees will emerge from the sealed chambers as new bees. Each of the chambers are sealed so sprays will not typically penetrate the brood colony. It is interesting to note that the Carpenter bee will typically lay down pollen and lay the new bee eggs on top of the pollen and then seal the hollowed out fascia, beam and 2×8 and continue this pattern for up to 6 feet.
Typically Carpenter bees will leave a golden brown stain or streak of pollen near the nest entry hole and more often there will be a cluster of saw dust at the base/floor or deck. Look carefully and you will find saw dust and signs of this species of bee. the two back legs are loaded with pollen and as they enter the hole the pollen will rub up against the wood and at times pieces will fall often. Pollen is still damp at this stage and will stick against walls, doors, etc.
Bumblebee with pollen. Notice the sacks full with pollen from local flowers. The bees use pollen to build their bodies, wings, legs while the nectar is typically used to generate movement and flight.
Please call us if you have any questions about either the Carpenter bee or Bumblebee. thank you our office number is 289-799-9417 for bee rescue or bee removal or send us your information such as pictures of the bee , where they are going in and out, your name and address by using our Contact Us form or send your info to firstname.lastname@example.org.