Discover Nature: Bees in Spring | KBIA

Discover Nature: Bees in Spring

May 24, 2016

So much in the natural world is ephemeral especially in the spring. This week on Discover Nature we look and listen for buzzing signs of the season.

Carpenter bees are active now. These large insects work alone to build shelter for their brood by burrowing into trees and sometimes into the wood around your house.
Credit Missouri Department of Conservation


Pollinators like wild honeybees are swarming now throughout Missouri. Usually seen as they forage in flowers for pollen and nectar, honeybee nests are often located in tree cavities or in beekeepers' boxes, not in the ground. Just a half-inch long, these insects are vital to humans who rely on bees for about a third of our food supply.

While honeybees are establishing new colonies now, carpenter bees are also laying eggs. Up to an inch long, these insects somewhat resemble bumblebees but have a noticeably black, shiny abdomen. Bumblebees, although about the same size and shape, have a noticeably fuzzy abdomen, usually with a prominent yellow band across it.

Distinguish the two by their behaviors: Carpenter bees are rather solitary and excavate their nests in wood. A small pile of sawdust beneath a hole about 3/8 inch in diameter is a clue to their presence. While they can do damage to structural wood, you can encourage them to stick around by providing blocks of wood attractive to them.

Discover Nature is sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation.