Food is an essential need for every organism to survive. Carpenter bees are among the category of insects that depend only on plant matter for food. 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.
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.
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.
What Do Carpenter Bees Eat?
Carpenter bees rely solely on plant matter for food. The nectar and pollen produced by flowers are the only food sources for carpenter bees. These substances provide every nutrient that carpenter bees and their young need.
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.
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.
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.