Male vs Female Carpenter Bee: What are the Differences?

Written by Emmanuel Kingsley
Published: July 18, 2022
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Carpenter bees are a species of bees that are famous for their solitary lives and for their wood-drilling abilities. Male and female carpenter bees have different roles, behavior, and physical characteristics that should not make it difficult for you to differentiate between them. However, you must know what to look out for. For this reason, we have compiled a list of some of the differences that exist between both sexes of carpenter bees. 

Comparing a Male Carpenter Bee and a Female Carpenter Bee

Male carpenter bees are more aggressive than females.
Male Carpenter BeeFemale Carpenter Bee
Head Color Has a white spot or marking on its head It is completely black
Roles and responsibility Defends its territory and nests Burrows wood and makes holes to build nests 
Stingers It does not have stingers It has stingers on its back 
Temperament More aggressive More even-tempered 
Nectar Robbing Responsible for most nectar robbing

Mildly destructive to flower structure when compared to females 
Responsible for less nectar robbing compared to males

Extremely destructive to flower structure  

The Key Difference Between a Male Carpenter Bee and a Female Carpenter Bee 

The primary difference between a male carpenter bee and a female carpenter bee is the white spot or marking that is on the head of the male which is absent from that of the female. The head of the female, instead, has a pure black color.

Let’s look at the differences in detail. 

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Male vs Female Carpenter Bee: Stingers

Female carpenter bees have stingers.

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Male carpenter bees do not have stingers on their back, while female carpenter bees have. This difference is very interesting in light of the fact that it is the male that defends the nest, yet it is the harmless one. The female carpenter bee may use its stingers if it feels threatened, under attack, or sees a need to protect its eggs. 

Male vs Female Carpenter Bee: Roles and Responsibility 

Male and female carpenter bees have a clearly defined role structure. It is the duty of the female carpenter bee to burrow wood and make holes to build nests. On the other hand, the male carpenter bee has the job of defending the territory where the female is building. However, since males have no stingers, they cannot sting. Therefore, their defense mechanism mainly constitutes dive-bombing. Males defend their territories from other flying insects as well as human beings. 

Male vs Female Carpenter Bee: Nectar Robbing

Male carpenter bees are responsible for most nectar robbing.

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Scientists have pointed out that there is a significant difference in behaviors between male and female carpenter bees when they rob nectar. The first major fact is that male carpenter bees are far more responsible for robbing nectar from flowers than their female counterparts.

Furthermore, male carpenter bees spend far less time with a single flower compared to females, which ensures that they are able to visit more flowers. Interestingly, the nectar-robbing behavior of the female carpenter bee is deemed more destructive to the flower structure than that of male bees.

Lastly, the energy gained for male bees from nectar theft is far beyond their energy payout, while for females the energy gain barely meets the energy payout.

Similarities Between Male and Female Carpenter Bees 

Male and female carpenter bees have certain similarities. These include: 

  • They both have black and glittery bellies.
  • They do not at any point eat wood, though they nest in them.
  • They draw liquid food from flower anthers using their powerful thoracic muscles.
  • Both the male and female carpenter bees belong to the genus Xylocopa.¬†
  • They have a similar body size, though females can be slightly bigger.¬†

Carpenter Bee Infestation: Danger 

Carpenter bees can be seen hovering around houses many times in search of spots where they can bore holes and build nests. While they may not be harmful to human beings, they sure pose a threat to the longevity of your furniture should they find it a suitable place for building their nest. The two major effects of carpenter bee infestation on your wood are disfiguring and weakening. Generally, they hardly attack wood that has been stained or painted. 

Carpenter Bee Infestation: Treatment 

There are several ways to deal with carpenter bee infestation and we detail some of them below: 

1. Chemical Treatment 

One way to deal with carpenter bees infestation is to apply insecticides to affected wood. These chemicals prevent them from attacking the wood, at least till the chemicals wear off. When applying chemicals to wood, here are some things to take note of: 

  • Most chemical sprays have a potency of about a month before they wear off. So, you will need to apply repeatedly.¬†
  • Some ingredients to look out for in insecticides to deal with these bees include deltamethrin and cyfluthrin.¬†
  • Always use nose masks, a hose, and hand gloves when applying insecticides to your wood.¬†
  • You have to ensure that the chemical is thoroughly applied over the infected space or furniture to dispel the bees.

It is important that you cover up holes after dealing with the bees and not before. If not, they will just find new holes to hide in. 

2. Homemade Traps 

Another way to deal with carpenter bee infestation is to use traps. This is a homemade method that can be done with pieces of equipment from the garage. Traps are designed to attract carpenter bees into wooden enclosures with multiple tunnels drilled into them unevenly spread out. The bees are lured into an empty, transparent plastic bottle attached to the open bottom of the wooden structure. In the bottle, disoriented bees would flutter, exhaust themselves, and eventually die.


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