Lesson from Grandpa: Carpenter Bees

October 12, 2012

When I was in grade school my mother and father both worked so in the summer I stayed with my Grandparents except on weekends. My Grandfather was a wonderful gardener and he knew a lot of things about insects. One day as Grandpa was putting away some garden tools in his shed he batted at a large black and yellow bee that was hovering above his head. I retreated a few steps back as the bee buzzed by my face and returned to bother Grandpa. The bee went up and down, chased another bee and came back to hover at what seemed to be inches from Grandpa’s nose. Much to my astonishment Grandpa came up with both bare hands and crushed the bee! I was stunned both by Grandpa’s quickness and that he did not get stung.

I asked if he was alright and he said he was. “Why didn’t the bee sting you?” I asked. He simply replied that that bee did not have a stinger! “How did you know he didn’t have a stinger?” I asked in amazement. Grandpa said, “I could tell by his eyes."

Well, my Grandfather was a wonderful man and he never did reveal to me what he saw in that bee’s eyes but what I discovered later in Exterminating 101 was this: Male Carpenter Bees do not have stingers. Carpenter Bees are the black & yellow furry bees. They drill neat little holes in wood to lay the eggs of their next generation. The female bee goes about the task of gathering pollen so the bee larva when it hatches from the egg has something to eat. She places the pollen ball next to the egg then moves on to do the same thing with all the other eggs. The male bee is the protector of the home and challenges everything that comes close to his neighborhood. Carpenter bees are colored very much like Bumble Bees. The male bee is very aggressive and this in-your-face aggression and resemblance to a bumble bee usually keeps birds, other insects and humans away; except it didn’t work on Grandpa. He knew the secret of looking into the bees eyes and knowing that male carpenter bees DO NOT HAVE STINGERS. Be careful though because the females do.

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