They fly in front of you and quickly dodge left and right. You swing…miss…swing…miss again then you go crazy and randomly swing in the air…I get composed and wait for them to taunt me again. Then whack…gottem’ — Anonymous forum post
Over and around me were sounds of the bubble bee but I was unable to find the little fellow.
While standing at the rabbits’ pen the rabbits, Rex and Hatcher, seemed completely unperturbed by the loud buzzing noise. Instead they focused on the basket in my hand holding their rations of apple, carrot, a couple of grapes, fresh picked dandelions and clover. Still, I stood waiting and watching when the bee might make his presence known. Over on the edge of the pen’s roof was a red wasp building his nest. The wasp nest would have to go so I shooshed him away with a long-handled brush before he got too invested in his nest. He would have to build his home elsewhere.
Still the bee buzzed somewhere over my head. I delivered the goods to the rabbits and waited. It was then I saw the perfectly round hole in the wood framing. Then I saw another and another.
My gaze went downward where fresh sawdust littered the ground. This was no bumblebee but rather a carpenter bee making a holey mess out of the rabbits’ pen. Too many holes would eventually destroy the pen. The bee would have to go. Ridding the area of carpenter bees always makes me feel a bit guilty, after all they are pollinators. Even though they are not great pollinators like the honeybee. Carpenter bees are stout bees so they don’t fit into most flowers.
They distribute pollen by their amazing ability to vibrate pollen off the flower. They have been known to make a slit in the flower and drain the nectar. They pollinate on flat flowers like my purple clematis.
My rabbit pen bee wasn’t a “he” drilling the hole but a “she.” Pretty impressive actually. The female carpenter bee can drill a perfectly round hole about one half inch across. She’ll drill into the wood for one to two inches; then take a 90 degree turn and continue. From there the section called “galleries” can be several feet long. This is where she’ll leave her eggs.
The carpenter bee will build in an old hole but sometimes females want a new place of their own.
So, she prepares to drill a fresh hole in a new location. The sawdust found on the ground is called “frass.” The carpenter bee prefers natural soft wood that is unpainted and weathered which would be like our house, garage, well house, and the bunnies shed. This is not a particularly good thing. One natural way to stop the continued hole drilling is to simply plug the hole.
Note there’re a couple of other differences between bumble bees and carpenter bees. Bumble bees fly in a direct pattern. They are social and live in colonies-sometimes 50 to 500 bees. They spend their lives caring for and protecting the queen. Bumble bees sting. Except for the rare female carpenter bee’s sting, carpenter bees do none of the above. They live a virtually solitary life.
Columns by Shannon Bardwell of Columbus appear in The Dispatch weekly. Email reaches her at [email protected]