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How can I tell a carpenter bee from a bumble bee?

By Chris Williams on August 1, 2014.

Carpenter Bees Vs. Bumblebees: Appearance

Carpenter bees and bumblebees do look somewhat alike. You can tell them apart. Both collect pollen to feed to their young, but their nest sites and habits are quite different. Both bees are about the same size, and both are black and yellow. The easiest way to tell the difference is that the top of the carpenter bee’s abdomen is black, shiny, and hairless, while the bumblebee’s abdomen is fuzzy black, often with the yellow band.

Different Nest Sites and Habits

Carpenter bees nest in pairs in soft, weathered, and unpainted woods like cedar decks, soffits, eaves, and wooden siding. The hole into the nest is about the size and shape of a shirt button.

Inside the nest, the female creates several cells with pollen balls and lays an egg in each. The male aggressively guards the nest during spring construction. After construction and egg laying, both bees leave the area.

Bumblebees are social bees that live in a colony. The new queen starts a new colony in the spring. She lays eggs and raises the brood of worker bees.

The new workers then take over nest duties, collecting pollen to feed to the larva in the nest and rearing the next brood of workers. Nests continue to grow until late summer. Nest entrances are usually a hole in the ground. Nests can also be in old equipment, in logs and sheds and building voids or in other unusual places.

Colonial pest technicians can find evidence if there have been carpenter bees nesting on or around your home. They can also inspect for foraging bumblebees and can track the bees back to their nest site. Give us a call today.

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