What Do Carpenter Bees Eat?

If you have found sawdust piling up underneath perfectly round holes drilled into wood surfaces around your home, carpenter bees could be to blame. Although carpenter bees serve an essential pollination role, controlling them typically only becomes necessary if their damages cause structural issues with wooden structures.

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Carpenter bees feature shiny black bodies adorned with orange-brown hairs on their thoraxes (the section between their head and abdomen). However, unlike their counterparts (bumblebees), carpenter bees lack stripes.



Carpenter bees feed on nectar, pollen and some plant matter for sustenance. Carpenter bees play an essential part in pollination by foraging across flowers to transfer pollen between blooms enabling reproduction across multiple plant species.

Carpenter bees can often be seen buzzing around flowers and foraging on wood surfaces during late spring and early summer. Although not aggressive in nature, their nesting activity may cause structural damage to homes or other wooden structures when nesting begins.

These creatures typically attack unpainted or stained softwoods like pine, cedar and cypress; however, they have also been known to infest hardwood surfaces like those found around your yard or home. You might observe them drilling perfectly circular holes into wood surfaces in your yard or home and also seeing piles of sawdust below each hole with fan-shaped yellow or moldy stains across them.

Female carpenter bees dig tunnels into pieces of wood and fill them with food masses of bee bread (a combination of pollen and nectar) before laying their eggs atop it. After hatching out into adult bees in fall, these overwinter in their tunnels.


Carpenter bees’ primary source of nourishment may be nectar, but they also collect pollen. While foraging for food they unwittingly pick up pollen on their bodies which helps in the reproduction of flowering plants.

Valley carpenter bees are adept at collecting nectar even from hard-to-reach flowers with their short tongues, such as salvia. A practice known as nectar robbing prevents her from reaching reproductive parts on this particular salvia and collecting nectar more effectively than she otherwise could. A huge female is seen here splattering pollen across her cheek and forehead while foraging on this plant – her pollen-spraying doesn’t hurt the plant but does prevent her from pollenating it by doing nectar robbing — an act which doesn’t harming this salvia from the plant!

Cup-shaped tulips require more ingenuity from bees to access, nectar thieves. By cutting into petal bases with their mouthparts and extracting nectar without pollination – such as from flowers like hyssop and penstemon – bees can gain access to its nectar reserves without pollination taking place.

Insect Eggs

Carpenter bees depend on pollen and nectar from flowering plants for sustenance, including proteins found in pollen, nectar, carbs, lipids, vitamins and minerals that provide energy needed for foraging and nest building. Carpenter bees have no problem finding food sources like this to sustain themselves when foraging and building nests.

Carpenter bees utilize wood from trees and structures as both food and shelter, much like honey bees and bumble bees do, by drilling perfectly round holes into it and creating their own nests with it. Other bee species inhabit hollow stems; carpenter bees prefer drilling their own homes into wood by creating their own holes for nesting purposes.

Female carpenter bees use their powerful mandibles to drill perpendicular holes into wood grain, creating a tunnel. Inside each chamber of her tunnel-home she deposits pollen and regurgitated nectar known as bee bread before laying one egg per chamber and sealing each chamber off into an ordered linear row.

Bees use chewed wood particles to build partitions inside their brood cells and their tunneled homes can cause serious structural damage to wooden buildings and structures.


Carpenter bees, unlike their colonized relatives bumblebees and honeybees, are solitary insects that build individual nests by drilling into wood to form tunnels where they lay eggs. Carpenter bees thus derive their name from this unique behavior of nest building and egg laying.

Male bees do not sting, while the female will defend her nest if it feels threatened. She carries a modified egg-laying tool which may cause an unexpected but painful sting if accidentally poked.

Carpenter bees use buzz pollination to gather flower pollen. After landing on a bloom, these bees shake their abdomen to generate ultrasonic vibrations that loosen and disperse pollen grains.

To effectively combat carpenter bees, any wooden surfaces where bees may be nesting should be treated with pre-season insecticidal spray or dust that contains carbaryl (Sevin), cyfluthrin or resmethrin before spring comes around – before their overwintering tunnels open up again and bees emerge from overwintering tunnels. These chemicals should also be applied early enough that before bees begin emerging they’ve already had time to burrow beneath surfaces as to not burrow into surfaces or prevent burrowing into surfaces during overwintering tunnels before emerging as soon as they emerge from overwintering tunnels before spring arrives before their overwintering tunnels come back out from overwintering tunnels to control carpenter bees!