Today as I played with the little one in a park we had several friends buzzing around us enjoying the glorious bank holiday sunshine. I was lucky enough to see them corralling around a wooden post and the holes within so I investigated. I’ve seen the odd solitary bee around the past few days in the garden, but never in such numbers and certainly not so close up to see their faces or the pollen on their hairs.
Female carpenter bees dig tunnels in dead wood where they lay their eggs. Carpenter bees can be considered as pests by some because of their wood boring habits; however they rarely do any serious damage, drilling into the surface of wood only.
Like the leaf cutter and mason bee, adults spend the winter in nests constructed the previous year, and become active in April or May. After mating, females construct new nesting tunnels or use pre-existing tunnels. Nesting tunnels are about 12mm wide and start on the end of wooden beams or at right angles to a surface for 10mm to 25mm before turning and following the wood grain. Tunnels are clean cut and may extend 15cm to 20cm. Females collect pollen and nectar to produce a dough-like mass called “bee bread.” The eggs hatch into larvae that feed on the bee bread in their cells.