What’s the buzz?

By:

Robin Mountjoy

Do you hear it? That sound! Yes, that’s the one. The familiar sound of bees. The buzz that fills your ears in the warm months of summer. In this case, put down your fly swatters because bees are a vital component to our ecosystem. More importantly, they make that sweet sticky stuff called honey that goes perfectly with Grandma’s homemade biscuits. Bees are pretty impressive insects and there are around 25,000 known species worldwide. The most common are bumble bees, carpenter bees, and honey bees.

Let’s take a further look at what these buzzing insects can do for us.

Bumble Bees

Bumble bees have definitely earned the name “busy bee,” as they are the primary pollinators of our plants and flowers. The nectar in these plants and flowers is a sugary liquid that gives bees their energy. They are active from spring to fall and there are 275 different kinds of bumble bees in the world. They are usually located underground in abandoned holes made by rodents and their nests contain between 50-500 other bumble bees. Bumble bees can also sting more than once, ouch! However, male bumble bees don’t have a stinger and females bumble bees are not usually very aggressive.

Carpenter Bees

Carpenter bees tend to enjoy their alone time. They generally live by themselves and find their cozy nests in bare, unpainted, or weathered softwoods but they especially love redwood, cedar, cypress, and pine. Carpenter bees emerge in the late spring and early summer and are often mistaken for bumble bees due to their similar appearance. However, a carpenter bee has a bare and shiny back while a bumble bees have a hairy abdomen with some yellow markings. Male carpenter bees are known to be pretty aggressive when you get close to their nest but luckily they don’t have a stinger. A female carpenter bee, however, will sting you if they feel threatened and that is usually pretty painful.

Honey Bees

Honey bees can do something that no other insect can, and that is make a food that humans are able to eat. Honey is not only Winnie the Pooh's favorite food but the only food that contains all of the necessary substances to sustain life. It includes enzymes, vitamins, minerals, water, and pinocembrin which is an antioxidant that improves brain functioning. The average working honey bee produces 1/12th teaspoon of honey in their lifetime. They live in colonies that consist of 20,000-60,000 honeybees and one queen bee. The queen bee can live up to 5 years while the working honey bees only live up to about 6 weeks. Honey worker bees can sting, but unlike bumblebees and carpenter bees, they die after only one sting.

Wasps and Hornets

It is very common to get bees mixed up with wasps and hornets. They can look pretty similar, but there are some major differences. Bees are pollinators and spend their time amongst the plants and flowers. Their bodies are smaller as they have hairy backs and flat legs allowing them to move pollen from one plant to another. Wasps and hornets, on the other hand, are predators and they get their food from other insects to help feed their young. Some wasps can even become aggressive scavengers as they shift their focus from insects to sweets as seen with Aunt Sue’s famous strawberry shortcake at the end of summer barbecues. Not to worry too much though, bees, wasps, and hornets don’t usually sting unless they are disturbed. 

Bee Free

Bees have long provided humans with honey and beeswax. However, when their duties interfere with the wellbeing of your home, they can turn into a problem. Beehives, bee colonies, and bee nests can be very dangerous, especially if the bees feel threatened by your presence. Connor’s wants you to have a “hapbee” summer, free from harmful bees. We know the best methods for removing your bee problems quickly and effectively so you can continue on with your fun filled summer!