are often mistaken for bumble bees. They are similar in size and appearance but that’s where the similarities end. Bumblebees are social, Carpenter bees are not. Bumblebees nest underground while the Carpenter bees nest in trees or in the wood frames of buildings. They drill an almost perfectly round hole about 1/2 inch in diameter usually against the grain of the wood. When about one inch deep it turns at a right angle, left or right, and tunnels along the grain. They do not eat the wood. The female does the drilling and clearly she has very sharp teeth. The tunnels are drilled for shelter and chambers in which to raise their young and hibernate during winter. Carpenter bees are territorial and will defend their space from other insects and people. The male has no stinger but the female does. Stings are very rare. The easiest way to differentiate the males from the females is by the yellow/golden square spot on the face. That’s a male.
It’s amazing to see these bees fly into my porch window at full speed, bounce off and continue flying. They do that for the same reason birds fly into windows. They don’t see the window, they see a darker space or a sky reflection that looks like a passage. And bump. Birds sometimes get dazed by the bump but recover shortly. Sometimes they don’t and unfortunately die. But the bees have no such problem. Imagine a person running at full speed and hitting a wall or a tree. Something will break and will require a visit to the ER.
People get freaked out when they see a lot of Carpenter bees around their house or property. It usually is not a problem unless the number is large and it becomes an infestation. Since they don’t eat the wood, using treated wood makes no difference. Covering wood with non-wood material will help. Filling the holes with steel wool also works.
Photographing them is not an easy task unless they land and enter or exit the nest. Shooting them in flight is very difficult.
Link to my blog post on how to get some good result at BIF .. Bees In Flight photography here