Have you seen a large black bee buzzing around the wooden areas of your home? You’ve definitely spotted a carpenter bee. Carpenter bees are also called wood bees, and with good reason. They burrow holes in window sills, eaves, railings, fence posts and other wooden structures.
Most people will see a carpenter bee and mistake it for a bumble bee. They do look like the black version of a bumble bee, but lack the fuzzy hair and aposematic coloration. Carpenter bees lack hairs on their upper abdomen which appears shiny. The female has a blue-black, green or purple metallic sheen.
Do not let their large size and loud buzzing frighten you. Carpenter bees are very docile and hardly aggressive .They rarely sting humans. It would take a great deal of close contact to provoke them.
Only female carpenter bees can sting you. The tip of their abdomen is modified into an egg laying structure. Most stinging bees will die after stinging the victim. The barbed stinger gets stuck on the victim, disembowling the bee as it pulls away. Carpenter bees and bumble bees are the exception.
They have a smooth stinger, enabling the carpenter bee to sting several times without it being fatal to them. Fortunately, the female carpenter bee will most likely leave you after one sting and return to its nest.
If you are stung by a carpenter bee, It could be quite painful. It releases a venom called melittin, found in all bee venom. It may cause redness and swelling. A sharp pain might last for a couple of minutes. It is not life threatening and treated as any other bee sting. Seek immediate medical attention if allergic to bee stings.
What to know
Carpenter bees are a solitary bee species. The male carpenter bee cannot sting, although buzzes around the outside of the hole aggressively. He does this to protect the female while she lays eggs and situates the home.
The problem with carpenter bees is that they often come back to the same place year after year to nest. They can create enough holes and tunnels to weaken the structure of your home.
Carpenter bees play a key role in cross pollination. They feed their larvae a special kind of ‘bee bread, a combination of pollen and regurgitated nectar, foraged from different plants. The bread is made and stored inside the wooden burrows.
Most of the damage seen on the outside of homes is from woodpeckers, and not carpenter bees. Wood peckers prey on insect larvae. They are usually attracted to the sound made by the hatching larvae. They bore through the already dug out hole trying to get to the larvae.
The female carpenter bee excavates holes of about 13 millimetres in diameter and extends them from 100 milimetres to longer than 300 milimetres. The wood is not ingested during excavation and is ejected as coarse sawdust. Carpenter bees prefer lower density, unfinished softwood. An easy deterrent is to keep all your wood coated, painted or stained.
The white face hornet gets its name from its black color and the white pattern on most its face. Bald faced hornets are found in all the states in North America. They are relatives of the yellow jacket.
White faced hornets have two lines running from the middle of their abdomen towards the head at a slanting angle. There’s a white pattern on the rear half of the abdomen too. When viewed from the side their upper midsection surface looks triangular. In the nest there is a clear caste. The queen is at the top followed by the male wasp and finally the workers. The white faced hornet queen is larger than the hornet workers. They chew up wood, mix it with saliva and use it to build their nests which are paper like and grey. Their nests are fully covered unlike their relatives the yellow jacket nests which has an open cone structure.
The white face hornets can be aggressive when disturbed. When threatened they will sting multiple times injecting venom every time. This venom makes the sting hurt, swell and itch for a whole day. They can cause allergic reactions in people who are sensitive to wasp venom.
White faced hornets construct their nests off the ground, in trees, utility poles, sheds, on overhangs, and houses which can be more than 25 inches in length with diameter of 15 inches. Bald faced hornets show up at the tail end of summer. Males hatch from unfertilized eggs and mate with the new females making sure there will be a new generation next year. All the members of the nest die when the weather cools and winter rolls in leaving only the pregnant females surviving. White faced hornets build nests anew every season from new material. They don’t recycle their nests each season unlike other insects.
With the presence of their huge nests which are built above ground and worker bald faced hornets buzzing around the nest and flying in the nearby areas infestation of the bald faced hornets would be hard to miss. The nest houses about four hundred bald faced hornets.
To avoid getting stung, keeping food covered and especially sweet fruit or sugary juices when outdoors will keep these hornets from finding anything to attract them. Use mild fragrances and unscented soap when going for excursions because hornets are attracted to strong scents and might mistake you for a flower. Also you may dress in neutral colored clothes like grey, khaki and white to avoid hornets landing on you and wear shoes that cover your feet for additional protection from stings. Any cracks and gaps in the home should be sealed to make sure bald faced hornets stay where they belong, outside your home.
Getting rid of bald faced hornets
Buy an insecticide that is in aerosol form and clearly labeled for hornets and wasps. It should have a enough pressure to shoot a stream reaching at least 5 meters so you don’t get too close to the nest. Treat the nest very early in the morning when the hornets are lethargic.
To avoid getting stung it is best to call a pest control professional to get rid of the white faced hornets.
The black and white wasp is often considered by most people to be a hornet. That thought is supported by the numerous colloquial names given to this wasp which include, white face hornet, black faced hornet, spruce wasp, bald faced hornet and so forth. While its many names may suggest that it is a hornet, it is more a wasp than a true hornet.
A wasps such as the bald face wasp’s anatomy will assume a triangular shape in the midsection when observed from the side. While the profile view of a hornet will show that it has a stooped posture. The entire body of a bald faced hornet has black and white patterns similar to those found in a yellow jacket wasp. Perhaps that is not at all surprising as they are of the same species. The bald head can be predominantly white or black which help explains some it the above names associated with this wasp.
Bald faced wasp habits
This wasp is a social insect and commonly active during the day. They build a grey colored paper carton nest above ground at a height of three feet or more from the ground. For that reason their nest are easily visible. The bald faced wasp will commonly build their nests on shrubs, trees, sheds and houses. Their colonies will have anywhere from 100 to 400 wasps at the peak of their season in summer.
The black and white wasp is an aggressive insect and will not hesitate to show its aggression should an intruder approach their space. While most other stinging wasps may not attack until they feel that there is a threat to their hive, the bald faced workers guarding the wasp will feel free to attack any person wondering into their space.
Interestingly, only the impregnated bald wasps will overwinter to start a new colony once the cold season is over. The rest of the colony will die off during winter. The surviving wasps do not reuse their old nest from the previous season and will go on ahead to build a brand new nest as soon as winter is over. Their nest size will often measure between 14 inches and 28 inches.
Black and white wasp sting
Unlike most other stinging insects such as bees who sting once and die, the bald face wasp has a smooth stinger. This means it has the ability to sting again and again.
The sting is painful causing swelling for a period of about 24 hours. Ordinarily, one does not need to go to a hospital because of a wasp sting.
Symptoms include the following:
- Pain and burning
It is important to note that persons who are allergic to wasp stings can be severely affected. This can lead to an anaphylactic shock. In such cases, one should be rushed to a medical center.
How to get rid of bald faced wasps
Given their aggressive nature and stinging capability, it would be ill advised to try and remove the nest yourself. Avoid disturbing a whole colony of black and white wasps and getting stung by them. It is best to get in touch with your local pest control officer for assistance.
Bees are great pollination agents. They are vital to agriculture and dispersion of pollen that allows plants to reproduce in large numbers. Bees are interested in flowers and plants and not at all in humans, unless of course you provoke them.
There are over 2000 species of bees globally, some are gentle and do not have the ability to stung. While others can be aggressive and do have the ability to stung.
The Carpenter bees
Also called wood bees they have a dense covering of black and yellow hairs over a black body with the exception of the abdomen which is bald. They are considered pests by some people due to the fact that they drill holes and nest in wooden structures. However, any damage to structures is far outweighed by their pollination contribution. The female Carpenter bee will drill a hole in wood and lay her eggs.
The Western honey bees
These bees have distinct black stripes on the abdomen and their bodies are golden brown. They were imported to the United States to help in pollination of agricultural crops and most live in man made hives which are maintained by professional beekeepers. They will sting if you get too close for comfort to their hive.
Mason honey bees
These species are small, extremely agile and fly very fast. Their bodies have a metallic blue black and a dull green color. They transport pollen on the hairs of their abdomen.
For a nest they will seek a hollowed out twig or stem. The Mason bee first lays female eggs and male eggs last. She creates food for her offspring using nectar and enzymes. She will then use mud to build a wall across the entrance to the nest. This is why they are called Mason bees. Mason bees are very docile, they only sting when trapped under clothing or handled roughly.
These bees are covered with thick black and yellow hairs and underneath them the body is black. In size they are bigger than honeybees. They build nests underground in holes abandoned by mammals. They set up colonies consisting of a few dozen members.
Leaf cutter bees
They have black bodies. They have white hairs on the thorax and underneath the abdomen. To cut leaves they use their massive Jaws set in a large head. They use the leaves for sealing their nests. The leaf cutter is a solitary bee.
These bees are attracted to human sweat. That is why they are known as sweat bees. They are a large group comprising of small bees. They can be a quarter of the size of a honey bee and are very good pollinators. Their colors range from metallic greens and blues to black with hints of blue and copper shading. Some have striped abdomens.
Because of their small size and high rate of speed they can be difficult to see.
These bees are specialist pollinators of the family Cucurbita. They pollinate plants such as zucchini, pumpkins, and squash to name a few. Their flight times are before sun up and last till mid-morning. They take off again just before dusk when melon and squash flowers open.
The male squash bee sites its nest in squash flowers. Mating also happens in the squash flower.
Without bees, food security in the world cannot be achieved because they are exceptional pollinators. But it’s okay to be wary of them because they can be terrifying little stingers.
Honey bees do sting. Interestingly only a few out of the over 19000 estimated species will sting you. Typically honey bees just want to go about their business of making honey and growing the hive. But they are more than capable of attacking when they feel threatened.
Result of a honey bee sting
When a bee stings you, it doesn’t matter which species it is. The pain is intense. When a worker honey bee stings you, it can only do so once and dies. That is because the stinger is barbed and when the bee tries to fly off after stinging, the stinger is ripped from the bees’ abdomen resulting in death. When stung, the bee sting will lodge into your skin forming an itchy bump.
The stinger is hollow with a venom sack attached to it. This will continue pumping the venom into your body which is probably what causes the itching sensation.
This poison is a potent mix of toxins and includes chemicals that interfere with the cell membrane. Such toxins include allergy inducing histamines even pheromones. Pheromone is particularly dangerous as it the one that signals nearby bees to come and join in the attack.
Honey bees hives have a distinct hierarchy. Top is the queen bee followed by the drones or the male bees and lastly the worker bees which are all sterile females. The queen bees’ stinger is smooth so it can sting as many times as it needs to without dying. The queen bee will use her stinger mostly on rival queen bees coming to overthrow her.
Honey bees are wired to protect the hive at all costs, even with their life. The queen bee, stores of honey and bee larvae are housed in the hive. The honey bees will attack anything they perceive as a threat to protect their hive and its contents.
Avoiding bee stings
Honey bees typically sting to defend themselves. So to avoid being stung, one should steer clear of a bee hive.
Using strong cologne that smells like a flower will inadvertently attract bees that think you are nectar. Chances of getting stung will be high. So avoid such strong scented flowery colognes.
Don’t wear bright clothing especially with floral patterns. When outdoors wear beige, khaki or other light colors unless you want bees landing on you for nectar.
Food and drinks with sugar will attract honey bees for sure when you are outdoors. This includes fruits. Make sure you don’t leave sliced pineapple and oranges lying around.
Stay still if a honey bee is buzzing around your head because the worst thing to do is swat at it. Stay calm, it’s just checking if you are a flower. When it realizes you have nothing it needs it will fly off.
Keep your car windows up to keep unwanted bees out but if a bee decides to hike a lift don’t try to swat at it while driving. Stop somewhere safe and open the windows.
Be careful walking in a flower garden. Honey bees will spend a lot of time among flowers collecting nectar and pollen. Stay out of their way.
For unwanted bees in your area, call a professional bee keeper or pest control professionals to have them removed safely and without risk to you and your family
Although there are many species of wasps on the planet, pest controllers in Phoenix are largely only concerned with 3 different types of wasps species: the Common Wasp Vespula vulgaris, the German Wasp Vespula germanica, and the Dolichovespula media.
All three species are social nest builders constructing their nests from paper which they make by mixing rotting wood with saliva.
Only the newly hatched queens survive the winter after mating with the males in the autumn. A typical nest will produce around 2000 new queens to overwinter.
They emerge from their hibernation in spring and after feeding commence nest building. The queen will build a small nest around the size of a golf ball in which see lays 15 -20 eggs which hatch into wasp larvae.
The queen then feeds these larvae on insects until they are ready to pupate and metamorphose into adult wasps.
Once the first batch of wasps is hatched, the queen devotes herself to egg-laying and the worker wasps, which are sterile females, take over the enlargement of the nest.
As this process takes time you will not see any wasps other than the queens much before June of each year. Any ‘wasps’ seen before this time will undoubtedly be solitary bees which do bear a passing resemblance to wasps.
By the end of summer and average wasps’ nest will be about the size of a medicine ball can contain 5-10,000 wasps although in good years much larger nests are seen. In autumn the nest begins production of the new queens and the males.
Once this process has finished the worker wasps start to become antisocial as they seek sweet sticky foodstuffs and assume the aggressive behavior which we all associate with wasps in autumn.
With the first of the cold weather the worker wasps and the males all die off and the queens go into hibernation to start the process again the following spring.
The nest itself is then spent and can never be used again. For this reason, it is not necessary to remove a wasps’ nest and pest controllers will leave a nest in-situ rather than risk falling through ceilings, etc. to try and remove it.
Although it is not immediately apparent wasps do quite a bit of natural pest control, their diet being aphids and grubs they do assist the gardener in keeping these pests in check but for many people, their habit of stinging outweighs any benefit.
A wasps’ nest should never be approached as wasps’ are most dangerous in the immediate vicinity of their nests and it is possible to sustain hundreds of stings in a very short period.
For this reason, it is advisable to engage the services of a professional pest controller who will have the necessary protective clothing for the task.
The pest controller will spray a small amount of insecticidal powder into the entrance of the nest and returning wasps will carry it into the nest. Within an hour all the wasps will be dead.
Not so much is known of the warrior wasps. But there is enough to know that they have one of the worst stings you can ever hope to endure. If you have ever inadvertently walked into what is known as a vespine wasps nest and got stung by even one wasp, then you know this things can really mess up your day.
The sting of a vespine wasp will fell like a day at the spa compared to the sting of a warrior wasp. The brutal sting of a warriors wasp is something special and in a class of it’s own. For reference and context, take the pain of being stung by a vespine wasp and compound that several times over. We shall revisit in more horrid detail the pain of the warrior wasp sting in a bit.
The Swarm-founding warrior wasps have particularly pricked the curiosity of ecological scientists because studies show that some of their colonies contain multiple queens as opposed to the single queen as often found with Vespine wasps nests.
Scientists also mention that although the species has a caste system, one can barely tell the workers and the Queen’s apart as they are morphologically identical or in other terms look very similar to one another.
Incase you are wondering what the warrior wasps look like, they have a distinctive blackish or dark blue metallic-like appearance. While species like vespine wasps may be feared, warrior wasps are revered by the local people in various geographies due to their defensive display which is both intimidating and unsettling. It involves drumming on the nest surface before a full scale stinging attack ensues.
Warrior wasps are from the genus Synoeca are commonly found in South and Central America, Mexico, Brazil and Argentina. Their nest often not overly hidden and is made on the face of a tree trunk underside of major branches or constructed on the face of a rock. They are relatively easy to find and fairly common throughout their range.
The nest is built as a single comb and resembles an armadillo. The outer surface is ribbed with lines running across the hive from side to side.
Colonies consist of anything from 50 to 500 warrior wasps and have an average lifespan of 16 years. Every so often a queen will fly off accompanied with a few workers to start a new colony elsewhere. In the event that a queen dies, she will be swiftly replaced by another.
Warrior wasps sting
When the hive is threatened, the warrior wasps will beat their wings simultaneously producing a drumming sound to deter an intruder. Hence the nickname ‘drumming wasp’ the drumming will continue and grows louder as the hundreds of warrior wasps begin to emerge from the hives envelope. The sound is menacing and the sight brings of terror about to unfold. Only if this striking display at intimidation fails to deter the intruder will the warrior wasps strike in droves as an absolute last resort.
Warrior wasps die after stinging once and perhaps explains why the elaborate drumming in hope of not having to engage. On the Schmidt sting pain index, a warrior wasp sting has been given a pain rating of 4. Schmidt describes the pain as ‘torture’ and not far from being chain to the floor of an active volcano’
For context, on the same pain index, red ants have a rating of 1.
The only other bug that has a rating of 4 on that index is the bullet ant. Not so much because the pain of a bullets ant supersedes that of a warrior wasp, although it does comes close, but simply because it lasts for a continuous 24 hours. While a warrior’s sting is much more painful than a bullet ant, the agony passes quicker.
If you happen on a warrior wasps’ hive, it’s most advised to back away and find another route before your day becomes really, really bad.
It is hard to find someone who does not likes honey. But the same bees that produce sweet smelling and tasting honey are also capable of stinging you senseless. Some species of honey bees can be more aggressive than others.
Getting close to a hive without adequate protective clothing can be a fatal mistake. While most people can get through being stung by a bee or two, being stung by a horde of bees can be catastrophic.
Bees often sting to protect their hives or in self-defense when they have been provoked. A single be will sting you and emit a hormone known as pheromone which alerts other nearby bees to come and join in the fight.
One to two bees can quickly turn into hundreds and that can be a major problem. Bees are only capable of stinging once and then they die. The sting that resembles a tiny wood splinter gets embedded in the skin and deposits a venom. It is this venom that causes irritation and itchiness.
Remove the sting from the skin by scraping it off with your fingernail or credit card. Removing the sting from the skin is imperative because that reduces the itching and swelling significantly.
After that, there are many remedies that can be applied to help ease the discomfort.
- Wash with clean water
The sting area should be washed using clean soapy water if possible before applying anything. Also the sting should be removed to ensure no more venom from the sting is being deposited in the skin
Ironically honey applied to bee sting, after removal of the sting from the skin, will help calm the sting area by reducing itchiness and soothing the skin.
- Essential oil
Certain essential oils are known for their antiseptic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and skin soothing qualities which can be helpful in restoring balance to a bee stung area. Such essential oils include:
- Lavender oil
- Thyme oil
- Rosemary oil
- Tea tree oil
- Witch hazel
As a rule of thumb, when using any essential oil for topical use, it should be diluted with a carrier oil such as almond, coconut or olive oil
- Calamine lotion
If the itchiness on the stung area is persistent despite having removed the bee sting, rubbing some calamine lotion to the wound will help bring relief.
The rationale behind using some toothpaste on a bee sting wound, is that the alkaline contained in the toothpaste should neutralize the acidic venom of a bee sting.
- Aloe vera
If aloe veragrows in your area grabbing a leaf and cutting it in half will reveal the Aloe Vera sap. Dabbing a bit of that sap on a bee sting can help soothe the pain and calm the surrounding sting.
So the next time you or your child gets stung by a bee, it is important to clear the area quietly but quickly to safety. Once safe, remove the bee sting if you can, then wash the stung area with clean soapy water. After that, you can apply any of the above remedies to sooth the area.
Incase your home or compound has a bee hive of aggressive bees, call a licensed pest officer to inspect and share with you what possible solutions to employ for the sake of safety
Millions of homeowners need help to deal with a wood issue in their home that not much is really known about, so when you discover you have timber work is riddled with holes and you just can’t figure out where they came from and why then you may just have a carpenter bees nest problem.
Sadly, these holes are a problem for many residences around the world where there is much natural wood and timber work about the home in various types of settings. This can vary from furniture, window fittings, skirting boards, floorboards, structural joists, banister railings, to wood cladding that has the type of wood that carpenter bees prefer
Indeed the type of timber that they prefer is wood that has not been treated or painted in any way shape or form and remains untouched and natural.
If you do have this type of wood or timber in your property they will be drawn to it as much as a honey bee is to honey and they will not discriminate on where it is located or what it is used for.
If it is not been painted it treated in any way then they will go for it and attempt to bore holes into the timber which will cause a lasting effect to the timber
The reason that carpenter bees seek to do this is the way they build their nests in order to live and rest after a hard day’s work foraging in the area. While normal bumblebees look to build their nests from all kinds of natural elements like mud, they will seek to make their nests in timber work.
This marks then out as quite an unusual specimen in their species as they are the only type of bee that builds their nests like this or is able to bore into wood or timber.
Indeed after they have built their nests like this then they will seek to bring their young into the nests so that they might live there and grow up.
Once the young are in the nests the worker bees will look to build partition cells in the nests with the particles if timber that have been removed from boring the holes.
Once they have done this, the young can grow up and mature into strong worker bees that will help the colony grow larger and stronger.
It is knowing how they behave that can make controlling a carpenter bee problem that much easier because you know who they are and what they do.
So, if you find a section of timber work in your home that is riddled with holes, then you know just what to do.
Hiring a professional to inspect your home for pests may cost a bit upfront but it’s far cheaper than not doing anything or attempting to inspect the perimeters yourself.
Unless you’re well versed in the various signs of infestation, you won’t know what to look for when it comes to various types of pests, such as termites, roaches or even rodents. Pest professionals know all the signs and just the right method of dealing with the invasion.
Seeing different kinds of bees is normal and you shouldn’t worry too much about this behavior. While they pollinate there is not much to worry about unless you and the Bee are getting too close. They will try to avoid danger. Bees will be bees and normally you can go on with your outdoor activities without concern.
Unfortunately, bees build small to very large hives in or around your home. These hives small or large can bring great danger to your family, pets, and neighbors.
A common misunderstanding is that Africanized Honey Bees are out to sting everything in sight. Both European and Africanized can be dangerous when in defense mode.
Both look alike to the naked eye and there is no difference in the shapes or the look of the hive they build.
The type of carpenter bee most frequently found in the United States of America is the common eastern carpenter bee; you will find it is quite often thought to be a large bumblebee because of the similarity in their color, size, and stature.
This is a mistake that many people who first see make and thus causes much apprehension because they think that they will behave much like their bumblebee cousins.
They are extremely effective pollinators and do very much like flowers that are open-faced although they also enjoy making holes in the sides of flowers that have quite deep corollas in order to get nectar.
You will often find that they bore holes in untreated timber and wood and can become a pest to household dwellers because of the damage they can cause.
As they bore the holes into this untreated wood they use the chewed wood to create partitions in order to make cells for them to nest. If you were to compare them with a bumblebee, you would find that the most noticeable difference would be the shiny abdomen with only yellow hair located at the base next to the thorax.
Bumblebees have a very fuzzy abdomen. In some species, though, there is plenty of yellow hair across the middle.
You will also find that the female eastern carpenter bee also has a much larger head than bumblebees which is quite a marked difference between the two species.
You can often also tell males and females apart as males have a patch of white cuticle on the face, as opposed to females, whose faces are black. Males also unable to sting, since a bee’s stinger is a modified ovipositor.
Unlike bumblebees, wasps, hornets and other insect cousins, they will not attempt to sting you unless they are gravely threatened by you in some way.
That means they have to safeguard themselves and fight against you in order to protect themselves and their offspring from danger.
When boring holes into timber or wood, carpenter bees will not cause damage to the property’s floorboards or joists.