Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Resourceful Queen Carpenter Bee!

While John was cleaning up a honey beehive a couple of weeks ago in preparation of installing our new bees this weekend, he found at the bottom of the hive body, a queen carpenter bee. The hive had died and she had been feasting on the left over honey and had neatly eaten a large section on the bottom. John brought her in to show me:

I gave her some grass and wood to crawl on, some water and some honey to sustain her for another day. 

The following day she was the unexpected guest at a native pollinator presentation I gave. I released her the following morning. 

Carpenter bees are the largest native pollinators in North America and are distinguishable from bumblebees by their shiny black abdomens. 

They are excellent pollinators because of their large size, hairy bodies and early emergence in the spring. They also are early morning risers and work later into the evening and are especially important pollinators for eggplants and tomatoes. 

Using their large powerful mandibles, they dig holes into wood to create their nests, as pictured here: 

They don't eat wood but rather nectar and pollen. If a carpenter bee seems to be flying erratically, flying into windows or your head, don't be alarmed, he probably is just chasing after a female.

Carpenter bees, like all bees, are important for pollination. 
Just think, one of every 3 bites of food come to us from pollinators. 
So, the next time you are biting into an apple, or peach, pear or plum, strawberry or kiwi, 
thank a bee

Without them, these food might not exist and/or would require pollination conducted by hand by humans, which is done now in some places like China, where bees can no longer live due to pollution and over use of pesticides.

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