Do Carpenter Bees Pollinate? – Are Carpenter Bees Unsung Heros of the Ecosystem?

It is crucial to have pollinating insects for the function and preservation of ecosystems. These ecosystems are vital for the survival of numerous species. Additionally, pollinators play a vital role in not only supporting the growth of wildflowers and plants, but also in maintaining food production. In fact, approximately half of the fats and oils consumed globally come from plants that are pollinated by animals and bees. As such, it is important to consider whether carpenter bees also contribute to pollination.

Honey bees and bumblebees are popular pollinators. They forge on flowers like many other pollinating insects. They transfer pollen from the anther of a flower to the stigma to get nectar and pollen to their colonies. Despite this, many individuals are not sure if giant carpenter bees pollinate and think of them simply as nuisance insects. It brings about the question, do carpenter bees pollinate? Read more to find an answer to that.

I’ve been working in pest control for the past 20 years, and at first, I always opted to use traditional pesticides on carpenter bees, but since learning about their importance to the ecosystem, I’ve opted to focus on repelling carpenter bees, rather than killing them.

Do Carpenter Bees Pollinate?

Yes, carpenter bees pollinate, including 500 species and 31 subgenera. Carpenter bees are vital pollinators.  They are often found feasting on different plants in our gardens and environment. Carpenter bees, like their bumblebee relatives, are morning eaters. They pollinate tomatoes, eggplants, passion flowers, vegetables, food plants, and flowers. 

do carpenter bees pollinate

The tracheal muscles of carpenter bees are powerful. They also come with muscles. They transform into living tuning forks when they hop on blossom flowers. Thus, they suck nectar away from the anthers to the stigma. They can also activate their flight muscles at higher energies to help them fly. This type of pollination is known as “Buzz Pollination” –  a trait that honey bees do not have. Pollen becomes discharged from flowers because of the vibrations.

Since carpenter bees have large bodies, they effectively find nectar. Also, they are resourceful in providing significant benefits to the environment. But, their vast size cannot penetrate long, tubular buds. Not excluding some that salvias and penstemons produce. Instead, these bees turn into nectar scavengers. They use their mouth to create a hole in the bottom of the corolla. Then, they grab the nectar without pollinating the flower. We observed this, too, in the case of yellow bellflowers (Tecoma stans). It’s also called yellow elder and trumpet bush. 

Are Carpenter Bees Good For The Environment?

Many people try to get rid of Carpenter bees because they are often known as pests. Even though they have limited sting threats, they can destroy wooden structures. Unknowing to this set of people, the bees benefit the environment in ways we cannot overlook. I can understand their behavior and choose preventive measures that consider the natural lifespan of these insects. I always try to reiterate to people that carpenter bees are good for the environment, and you should avoid poisoning and killing carpenter bees, and should opt for repelling rather than killing these bees!

Carpenter bees have a unique large body which actually makes them very effective pollinators. They also make a massive contribution to the ecosystem. One-third of the foods we eat, such as vegetables, fruits, nuts (almonds), and seed crops, rely on insect pollination, so we as a community need to rally to protect carpenter bees as much as possible.

are carpenter bees good for the environment

Our agricultural industry depends on insect pollinators, such as honey bees, for about $29 billion. From this sum, about 15% of such an amount comes from native bees such as the carpenter bees. Insect pollinators affect the reproduction of plants. It supplies food sources for birds and other animals.

Note that dormancy starts in the adult stage. In this stage, the female carpenter bees begin foraging anytime the temperature increases. It implies that it is easy to alter the commencement of foraging in greenhouses. A significant benefit of the carpenter bee is finding it all over the planet. Therefore there will be a need to decrease the import of exotic pollinators. Since many solitary bees specialize in pollination, they have minimal active seasons, not completing pollination. 

Carpenter bees have a significant impact on our ecosystem since they are efficient pollinators. In this light, let’s go over to some of the plants these insects pollinate. 

Plants That Carpenter Bees Pollinate

Passion Flower 

Carpenter bees are excellent pollinators to Passiflora spp. Passiflora spp is often called Passionflower. Carpenter bees pollinate this crop more than the method honey bees use. 

do carpenter bees pollinate flowers

Tomatoes

In Australia, Carpenter bees now undergo rearing in greenhouses to pollinate tomatoes. The pollination prowess of these carpenter bees increased tomatoes’ weight by 10 percent. These bees work together with the wind. They use their excellent scavenging skills in buzzing the anthers. This makes them very effective in pollinating tomatoes. 

Honeydew Melons

A study was carried out on honeydew melons in India. This study shows that when carpenter bees pollinate, greenhouse honeydew melons fruit will increase threefold. So, their pollination led to the massive production of Honeydew melons. 

Cotton

They are essential pollinators of cotton in Egypt, India, and Pakistan. And in the USA, they are pollinators of male-sterile cotton fields. Also, carpenter bees pollinate night-flowering cactus in Israel.

Nut Plants

  • Organic pollination is most beneficial to almost all nut crops’ yield. It causes an increment in the number of nuts produced. This pollination is clear in Almond plants. 
  • Pollination of Brazil nuts depends on giant bees – carpenter bees, in particular, to manufacture products for sale. 
  • Bees can increase chestnut yield in the economy. However, wind performs most of the pollination. Among the most produced nut crops, only walnuts and many species of peanuts are often produced alone. Production becomes rapid with the help of wind pollination. 

Why We Need Carpenter Bees?

Carpenter bees play a crucial role in our environment, primarily through their pollination efforts, which support the reproduction of various flowering plants. This not only aids in the production of many human-consumed fruits, vegetables, and nuts but also bolsters biodiversity and ecosystem health. These bees indirectly support agricultural industries, making them economically significant.

why we need carpenter bees

Additionally, they serve as a food source for various predators, helping maintain a balanced food chain. While their wood-boring behavior can be seen as a nuisance in human-made structures, it can also be viewed as a form of natural wood recycling in forests. Furthermore, the presence or absence of carpenter bees can serve as an indicator of an ecosystem’s health.

Despite the challenges they might pose to homeowners, it’s vital to recognize their ecological importance and seek harmonious ways to coexist with them.

Final Thoughts On Carpenter Bees Being Pollinators

In conclusion, one thing I’d like for more people to know is just how beneficial carpenter bees are to our ecosystem and that they are one of the most important pollinators that we have.

I know carpenter bees can be seen as a nuisance pest because of their nesting habits which can cause damage to your home, but I highly recommend looking at deterrent methods first, rather than resorting to killing carpenter bees. I wrote an article on getting rid of carpenter bees that includes resources on how to deter and repel carpenter bees rather than killing them instantly.

Overall I hope you’ve enjoyed this guide on do carpenter bees pollinate, and I hope it forces you to think before immediately resorting to killing carpenter bees.

Resources:

https://extension.umd.edu/resource/carpenter-bees

https://extension.psu.edu/pollination-and-pollinators

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