Although you’re likely to host a variety of different insects in your yard or garden, it’s important to be able to identify any that can pose a threat to people or property. You want to keep an eye out for bees in particular, since carpenter bees can cause structural damage to your home. However bumblebees, which are commonly confused with carpenter bees, are not as destructive. Here area few of the differences between them and ways you can identify one from another.
What do carpenter bees and bumblebees look like?
One of the reasons they’re confused is because both carpenter and bumblebees have large, round bodies roughly ½” to 1″ in size and similar wing shape. The easy way to tell them apart is to look at their bodies. Bumblebees are furry and have the typical bright yellow and black coloring. Carpenter bees, on the other hand, have more muted coloring and have a shiny abdomen that’s solid black.
What sort of habitats do they live in?
Even though they’re both bees, they live in very different habitats. Bumblebees are social, often living in colonies underground where they divide the “work” that needs to be done. In contrast, carpenter bees are more solitary, living by themselves and caring only for their own young. Rather than nesting in the ground, they bore holes in wood that can be 6″ to 10″ deep or more. The tunnels can branch into multiple “rooms” where they store eggs and food. These holes can sometimes be what homeowners notice before ever spotting a single bee. If you see dime-sized holes in your eaves or exterior beams, you could have an infestation.
What distinct behaviors do they have?
Besides being a nuisance and digging holes in your home, carpenter bees don’t usually pose a physical threat. They mainly spend their time doing normal bee activities like pollinating plants. Bumblebees, on the other hand, defend their nests aggressively and will chase and sting any threat. If you’ve ever been stung by one, you know that a bumblebee sting is especially painful and the pain and discomfort can last for days. One common behavior trait they both share is the ability to sting multiple times since their stingers are smooth, not barbed.
Being able to spot the difference between bumblebees and carpenter bees will help you identify the type of pest problem you have and aid professionals in determining the most effective plan for removal and prevention. Because of their different habitats and behaviors, each requires a specific approach for optimal results.