Last Updated February 26th, 2023: Despite being a nuisance to man, carpenter bees play vital roles in nature. Carpenter bees are important native pollinators but still serve as food for predators. Since they tend to become overpopulated, predation is one of nature’s methods to control these excessive numbers. In this guide we’ll be covering common carpenter bee predators and what eats carpenter bees!
Carpenter Bee Predators
The Predators of carpenter bees play an important part in keeping their numbers in check. Even so, some carpenter bee predators can cause a nuisance to man and may even be dangerous. Also, not all carpenter bee predators attack bee nests. Hence, we may only see the use of natural enemies as a passive way to control carpenter bee infestation. Because carpenter bees usually won’t sting, this makes them easy prey for predators.
Do Carpenter Bees Have Predators
Natural predators to carpenter bees include woodpeckers, shrikes, wasps, hornets, mantises, lizards and geckos, and certain species of spiders.
Read on to check out some of the predators that hunt and kill carpenter bees.
Birds can be useful in controlling insect pests in gardens and farms. But in controlling carpenter bee infestations on property, they may not be the most effective. However, birds do eat carpenter bees! Nest holes excavated by carpenter bees on wood can attract woodpeckers. To get the carpenter bees and larvae in the holes, woodpeckers will further destroy the wood. Hence, this bird is rather detrimental than beneficial to humans, despite being a bee predators
2. Bee Flies and Wasps
Bee flies and parasitoid wasps are the convergence of a predator and a parasite. In nature, such behavior is referred to as parasitoidism, as these insects eventually kill their hosts. Instead of the myth that carpenter bees kill wasps, it’s actually the other way around.
Solitary bees like carpenter bees are common hosts that bee flies and wasps attack. Bee flies are famous for their method of utilizing bee nests to lay their eggs and grow their young ones. After hatching, bee fly larvae soon locate and feast on grown bee larvae. This scenario is very similar for parasitoid wasps—especially chalcid wasps. With their ovipositor inserted at the entrance of the bee’s hole, they lay their eggs. After the carpenter bee eggs hatch, they find and feed on the bee’s offspring in the nest.
Other wasps that attack carpenter bees are predatory wasps which live in colonies. Good examples include the infamous yellowjackets and hornets. Wasps are deadly enemies of carpenter bees and may control their infestation on wood. But,like the bees, they can sting and cause a nuisance to man.
Carpenter bees are actually so afraid of wasps that people use fake wasp nests to repel carpenter bees from around their home.
3. Praying Mantis
Another predator of carpenter bees is the praying mantis. Though they do not attack the bees at their nests, they can still prey on carpenter bees in the open. Hence, praying mantises may not be a way of curtailing carpenter bee infestation. A carpenter bee foraging on the field can be ambushed and eaten by a mantis.
4. Spiders and Robber Flies
Other predatory insects that feed on carpenter bees include robber flies and spiders. The strategy employed by spiders and robber flies is alike. When they attack a carpenter bee or any other prey, they inject digestive juices into the prey’s body. After digestion, these predators proceed to siphon the digested matter from their prey.
Final Thoughts On Carpenter Bee Predators
Carpenter bees are way down the food pyramid and have many enemies. Birds, spiders, wasps, bee flies and robber flies are some of the many predators of bees. You might even see carpenter bees fighting one another and it might get you thinking why do carpenter bees fight each other? Most of this is often due to different carpenter bees looking for nesting spots.
We also have a full guide on what kill carpenter bees instead of relying of predators to take care of the job!
While carpenter bee predators contribute to regulating bee numbers, they may become a nuisance. Hence, they may not be a favored method of controlling carpenter bees.