Last Updated February 26th, 2023: Carpenter Bee Nests are very interesting places. Generally people will think of bee hives similar to a honeybee, but that isn’t the case for carpenter bees. Carpenter bees live in nests or tunnels rather than a live, and they are more solitary bees compared to honeybees. They don’t live with hundreds of other bees, it’s generally only a few. In this guide we’re going to be covering everything you need to know about carpenter bee nests including how many carpenter bees live in a nest, where do carpenter bees live, and much more!
How Many Carpenter Bees Live In A Nest?
Generally there are under 10 carpenter bees living in a single nest.
To better understand how many carpenter bees you’ll find in a nest, consider the nature of some other bee species.
Various types of bees have different habits and living patterns. Honey bees, called “social bees,” live in very large, communal groups. When they invade homes, they typically inhabit attics or cavities between walls. These groups can number in the tens of thousands in a single colony or nest. Honey bees can also be very aggressive and defensive.
Bumble bees are also social bees, but they live in small colonies and nest in the ground. Typically nonaggressive, they stay focused on flowers, not houses or people.
Where Do Carpenter Bees Live?
Carpenter bees live in individual nests in softwood such as your porch, siding, or trees and tree stumps. Carpenter bees don’t live in hives like traditional honeybees, so there is no such thing as a carpenter bee hive.
Do Carpenter Bees Live In Colonies?
No, carpenter bees do not live in colonies.
But when it comes to carpenter bees, they aren’t social bees. Instead, they lead more solitary lives, and there isn’t a queen carpenter bee.
However, small groups of related bees stay together and remain in the same area for generations. Carpenter bees live in drilled holes in wood, which they’ll often return to year after year, after the hardworking has been completed. Male carpenter bees cannot sting; however, they will dive repeatedly and aggressively at people and pets that come near their nests.
How Carpenter Bees Set Their Nests Up
Each spring, when the new carpenter bees emerge from hibernation, they look for a mate. A female and male will choose to mate together and, soon after, the female starts the hard task of building a nest and laying eggs.
Carpenter bees are known for their wood-drilling skills. Unlike honey bees, carpenter bees are lone soldiers. This means that they do not make a hive or live in a large colony. Carpenter bee units primarily comprise one female and one male carpenter bee, sometimes they may extend to at most five or six in number but never more.
If the number exceeds more than a female and male in one nest, it’s usually considered a crowd. Think about how many more carpenter bee nests are needed compared to bumblebees that live with hundreds of other bees!
The female and male carpenter bees have different and important jobs. The female does all of the nest construction. From the moment she chooses the nest location, she gets busy with creating the perfect tunnel for the eggs she will lay.
The male carpenter bee’s job is to protect the female carpenter and defend their territory. The male generally has the most interaction with humans. Because he needs to defend his family’s territory, he will actually dive-bomb any intruders – including humans! While the male seems intimidating, he is quite harmless. Male carpenter bees cannot sting! His whole defense technique is based on using his large size to frighten threats.
How To Identify Carpenter Bee Nests
Carpenter bee nests are generally pretty easy to identify because they are pretty unique looking. Carpenter bees will drill holes in any wood they find suitable for their nests, this generally will be your porch or the siding of your home. They do prefer soft or untreated wood, but that won’t stop them from trying other types of wood.
Generally carpenter bee nests will have multiple holes or entrances that are about a dime sized. It can take a carpenter bee a week or two to drill these holes, and they don’t eat the wood, so one of the biggest signs of a carpenter bee nest is leftover sawdust on the ground below the holes.
Final Thoughts On Carpenter Bees Nesting Habits
When the carpenter bees first emerge in the spring they have about 2-3 weeks to find a mate. Once a carpenter bee gets that mate, sufficient food, and the perfect nesting area during the spring, they will burrow into the wood to create a hole and nesting galleries for the female to lay eggs.
Carpenter bees are a semi-selfish kind of species that are not big on socializing. So they try to enforce that through an aggressive form of territorial bordering. And even if they are very much harmless to other bees, they still stand their ground should they ever have to protect their colonies (a dominant behavior are usually found in the males bees).