What Do Carpenter Bees Eat? – Carpenter Bee Diet

Food is a crucial necessity for the survival of all living organisms. Carpenter bees belong to the group of insects that solely rely on plant-based sources for their nourishment. As highly active insects, carpenter bees require a significant amount of energy to carry out their daily activities. Hence, the question arises – what exactly do carpenter bees eat?

Like other bees, sugar is an important nutrient in the diet of carpenter bees. The reason for this is that sugar provides the much-needed energy for activities. Other nutrients like proteins, vitamins, and minerals are crucial for the growth of bees. As you can see, carpenter bees are very busy, and need lots of energy! In this guide, we’ll be covering what do carpenter bees eat and what their diet consists of!

what do carpenter bees eat

It is a fact that carpenter bees cause damage to wood like termites, with the popular misconception that carpenter bees feed on wood. However, that is not the case. 

These bees have the same nutrient requirement and diet as almost all other bees. The only reason they excavate holes is to build nests for the growth of their young ones. This article will shed some light on what carpenter bees eat and how they get their food.

What Do Carpenter Bees Eat?

Carpenter bees eat plant matter for food including pollen and nectar, and are herbivores. Nectar is a sweet and sugary liquid that are produced once flowers begin flowering, and are the perfect food source for carpenter bees. The nectar and pollen produced by flowers are the only food sources in the diet for carpenter bees. These substances provide every nutrient that carpenter bees and their young need, and provide all the energy they need to continue pollinating the world!

We’ll break down what do carpenter bees eat more below!

Nectar

Nectar is a sugary substance that flowers provide to assist in the process of pollination. Nectar is an important food source for carpenter bees because it provides energy. In turn, the bees pollinate the flowers.

Carpenter bees have short mouthparts called mandibles rather than teeth. So they may be able to only pollinate open-faced flowers. Other flowers with cup-shaped petals may be narrow for them to feed or pollinate. So, these bees “steal” nectar without pollinating the flowers. They do this by piercing the side of the flower petals with their mandibles and collecting the nectar.

Pollen

Flowering plants produce pollen in their flowers that play a role in reproduction. Pollen is in the form of powder and is dislodged when carpenter bees forage on flowers. This causes pollination in the flowers. 

Carpenter bees are pollinators and make a big ecological difference. Pollen serves as a good source of nutrients for carpenter bee larvae. So, female carpenter bees collect pollen, form it in a ball, and place it in the already-made nests with the eggs. A mix of sawdust and pollen divides compartments for each egg. When the eggs hatch into larvae, they feed on the pollen ball for a period, until they develop into pupae.

What Is The Typical Carpenter Bee Diet?

The typical carpenter bee diet consists of plant nectar and pollen. Because carpenter bees have powerful mandibles, they are able to drink plant nectar from the underside of flowers, which other bees can’t do.

How Do Carpenter Bees Eat?

There are over 500 different species of carpenter bees, and they are all slightly different in terms of physical anatomy, so they will eat slightly differently.

carpenter bees eating

That being said, most carpenter bees posses short mandibles (mouth pieces) that they use to collect nectar from the underside of flowers. Because these mandibles are shorter than other types of bees, carpenter bees can’t collect pollen from all types of flowers if the flowers tube is too long.

Carpenter bees will also occasionally cut their way into flowers to access nectar if they can’t reach it with their mandibles.

Do Carpenter Bees Feed on Wood?

Unlike termites, carpenter bees do not eat the wood they infest. Wood is a huge source of cellulose—a complex carbohydrate that termites can digest with ease. 

Carpenter bees, however, do not have the necessary enzymes to digest wood. So, they do not consider wood as a source of food. Rather, they use wood as nesting material to grow their young and that’s where they live. This nesting behavior is also similar to carpenter ants.

Final Thoughts On Carpenter Bees Diet

Food is a vital need for carpenter bees to survive. Flowers are important because they supply food for carpenter bees. Nectar and pollen provide the necessary nutrients for carpenter bees. Unlike termites, carpenter bees do not eat wood. Rather, they drill holes in wood only to build their nests.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this guide on what do carpenter bees eat, and has helped give you a little bit of an inside scoop on carpenter bees diets!

Resources:

https://www.britannica.com/science/nectar

https://entomology.ca.uky.edu/ef611

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