This type of stinging bee gets its common name from its habit of boring into wood like a carpenter. Some easy ways to tell the difference between a bumble bee and a carpenter bee is to take note of where they are flying and their appearance. Bumble bees typically fly around waist-high and lower while carpenter bees typically fly shoulder-high and higher. Bumble bees appear to be yellow and fuzzy while carpenter bees appear to be black and shiny.
Unlike bumble bees, carpenter bees are solitary insects. The adult carpenter bees hibernate over winter, typically in abandoned nest tunnels and emerge in the spring to feed on nectar. The males hover around the area outside of their nests. The males are unable to sting so they rely upon appearing very aggressive to guard the nest.
The female carpenter bees bore circular dime-sized holes in wood to lay eggs and protect their larvae as they develop. These holes are commonly on the underside of deck railings, fascia boards along the roof eves, wooden posts or throughout wooden play sets.
Carpenter bees are a serious property threat, as they can cause structural damage over time if left untreated. Male carpenter bees can be territorial and may hover in front of one’s face aggressively, but they have no stinger and these actions are merely for show. Female carpenter bees do have a potent stinger, but it’s rarely used. The main threat of the carpenter bee is the damage they do to your property and the annoyance of the males behavior when present.