By Dave Coulter
Over the past several days E and I have been following - from a safe distance, mind you - the comings and goings of a Carpenter bee that has taken up residence near her home. When I first saw it I thought it was just a bumblebee that was extra dark, but thanks to the internet, we all know better now. And the timing for this educational moment is quite good - but more about that later.
The Carpenter bee that we have come to know is big, and by virtue of his size he has earned instant respect. Apparently the males do not sting, but I'll be darned if I'm gonna rile him up to test that theory. He often flies around ponderously as he inspects wooden posts and garden stakes closely for whatever it is that he is looking for. Every so often he'll kick it up to fourth gear and fly around rapidly, which I guess is a show of force for spectators. He went through this back and forth, slow and fast routine as I watered the garden.
Carpenter bees can tunnel into wood, and E found the entrance to his (and presumably his wife's) lair - a perfectly round hole under a wooden deck rail. My brace and bit could not have drilled more precisely! So, I guess these bees have a potential for destructive behavior, but so far the new tenants are getting a pass. They are native pollinators after all, and they deserve some respect.
I'm guessing many of you have heard that bee populations are in decline. Furthermore, I'm guessing that many of you have gardens too. Can you guess where this is going? Now that summer seems to finally bee here (heh) we all have a good opportunity to plant a flower or two for our native pollinators.
The way I see it, it's a win-win. You plant some pretty flowers in your garden and give the local invertabrates a meal. And hey, if you're successful in your quest you can even contribute your sightings as a Bee Spotter. It's another chance for you to bee somebody.