Bee (Carpenter? Honey? Something else?)

Asked May 9, 2018, 12:35 PM EDT

Greetings, We have a painted porch that was freshly painted last year. This year, I notice two holes in the support beam area and some bee? activity. They are smaller insects - that look very much like honeybees in body shape and size. I've not gotten super close, but it looks like they may have a darker abdomen coloring - but it could just be that I'm seeing them when I'm around in the evening. Knowing the construction of the house, they can probably get to the attic from their location so I don't want them there. However, if they are "good" bees/pollinators, I don't want to just spray/seal the openings and kill the hive. Do you have any thoughts? Attached is a picture in which you can see the two holes. I mention freshly painted last year, because what I've read of carpenter bees suggests that paint seemingly prohibits carpenter bee activity. Also the size seems wrong (again these are honey bee size). I've attached a photo of the holes and a photo of the insect. Thanks.

Kalamazoo County Michigan

1 Response

The bee does not look like a honey bee, and you are correct that they are not carpenter bees. I cannot tell for sure from the picture of the bee, but I think it is a mason bee or a leafcutter bee. They are solitary insects, not living in colonies. Individual females use natural cavities for nest spaces. Mason bees collect damp soil to partition off cells, leafcutter bees use bits of leaves. Both types are very docile, rarely stinging, even when handled. They will not construct extensive nests, they just put a small number of cells into existing cavities. Each bee might generate only a dozen or so young in a year.