Do we have carpenter bees in Salem?

Asked August 19, 2017, 11:58 AM EDT

Past couple days, a large bumble bee like insect has been hanging around the outside cats' wet food bowl. I know it's not a bumble bee. We used to have tons of them around our purple rhododendron. I hardly see them now. When I search for carpenter bees, I get a million web sites on how to kill them. Should I be worried? I love bees and do a lot to attrack them, but I've never seen a bee like this. I'm highly sensitive to honey bee stings, so trust me, I'm not interested in getting too close unless I have too. I will try to get a picture of it. Thanks, MaryAnn

Marion County Oregon

3 Responses

Thanks for your bee question. Yes; there are carpenter bees in Salem. However, I think what you're observing are most likely not a bee, but a yellowjacket, which is actually a wasp. (There are meat eating bees, called meliponines, but (1) they aren't in Oregon and (2) they don't have stingers.) You won't find carpenter bees going after cat food!

Yellowjackets are after the meat (in your cat's bowl) to digest for their larvae. They can get aggressive and do sting when their "babies'" food source is threatened.

Here is link to a good article that distinguishes among them. You can read here about yellowjacket control, but the best control time is early to late spring, when the queens are building their nests. This article has suggestions about controlling them now. Practically, though, about the best thing you can do now is to keep protein inside, so they can revert to their second choice of food--nectar. You can also use a yellowjacket trap; just be aware that beneficial (good) insects are attracted to the pheremone (smell) that is there, and some great bees may die. And the traps won't control much of the population.

Hope this is helpful. Good luck!

Thanks for the reply, but nope, I know my yellow jackets, wasps, hornets, bald face hornets (ick), mason bees, honey bees, and various bumble bees. There's probably more. Being "allergic" to bees, I have watched them carefully. Probably having been a Biology Teacher in an earlier life helps too.

I have never seen a bee like this. It can't be a type of fly. I keep looking at bee pictures. There's a longhorn bee, but the antenna don't look right. It still bothers me that it buzzes the cat food. My husband suggests it's after moisture.

Well, snap a picture, and we won't have to guess!