Monday, November 30, 2009

Handiwork of the Carpenter Bee

I'd walked by this White Pine many a time over the past year and sometimes stopped to ponder the perfectly round holes. Too perfect for a bird, almost like a power drill, the answer came from articles in Val Littlewood's Pencil and Leaf blog. Thanks Val! :-) Do check out her wonderful and growing series of bees!

Don't the Carpenters perform a fine job? Notice how they work through each annual ring, through the harder and softer parts of each year's growth.

Just to give an idea of actual size...

Here's a bit of frass left over after construction. What didn't come through that well was a whitish material that I suspect was blocking off some inner chambers. (It shows up rather fuzzy here.)


  1. Thank you John.. and lets hear a round of applause for the wonderful carpenter bees. The more I learn about bees in general the more special I think they are. In fact all the pollinating insects in general. The complicated interdependent relationship between them and plants is astonishing, very sophisticated and sometimes quite fragile. I see clearly now how eliminating one tiny link in the chain, like a habitat, can have disastrous consequences. But I think the carpenter bees, at least, are safe for a while.

  2. Frighteningly fragile, and something I hadn't realized before watching a PBS Nature show, Silence of the Bees.

  3. Who knew? Not me! I had read Val's post about these bees and saw her cross section photo illustrating the bees' tunnels inside the tree- but I never associated the holes that I saw in trees with bees until I saw your photos. I had always thought they were woodpecker holes! Fascinating-and another thing to photo and record for my journal.
    thanks to both you and Val!

  4. It seems that most web photos of entrance holes focus on building damage.

    Just another reason to leave standing dead wood in safe areas. I love the dead trees in the wetland behind my house. They're full of chickadee, woodpecker, and squirrel nests. I'll need to look closer for bee holes once everything freezes over.