Carpenter bees are generalist foragers and are known to pollinate both crop and wild plants. Examples of plants pollinated by carpenter bees include eggplant (Solanum melongena), tomato (Solanum lycopersicum), passion fruit (Passiflora edulis) and other species in that genus, cucurbits (Cucurbita spp.), cassias (Cassia spp.), Carolina jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens), cigar orchid (Cyrtopodium punctatum), bee balm (Monarda spp.), aromatic sumac (Rhus aromatica), and wild lupine (Lupinus perennis). They often forage in the early morning and are buzz pollinators - meaning they use vibrations, or sonication, to release pollen grains from the flower's anthers. Carpenter bees typically visit flowers that are large, open-faced with abundant nectar and pollen, ephemeral day-bloomers, pale or saturated in color, and that have a fresh odor, anthers specialized for pollen collection by bees, and corollas with strong walls.
However, not everyone appreciates carpenter bees for the pollination services they provide. These bees are known nectar-robbers - for some long, tubular flowers the bees' bodies are too large to fit inside and they will cut a slit at the bottom of the corolla and take nectar without coming into contact with the flower's pollen. They have been known to "rob" nectar from sage (Salvia spp.), beard-tongue (Penstemon spp.), rabbiteye blueberry (Vaccinium virgatum), and faba bean (Vicia faba). Additionally, carpenter bees can be viewed as pests. These bees nest in wooden structures, like decks, siding, and wooden window trim, and can weaken the structural integrity of the wood. Additionally, they leave defecation streaks below their nests. For these concerns, though, there is an easy fix - a quick coat of paint. Carpenter bees rarely nest in painted or varnished wood.
- Celebrating Wildflowers: Carpenter Bees (Xylocopa spp.), Steve Buchman, US Forest Service
- Effects of Multiple Visits by Carpenter Bees, Xylocopa virginica on Seed Set of Wild Lupine, Lupinus perennis (Fabaceae), S. Hevner and R. J. Mitchell, Bowling Green State University
- Native Pollinator-Lost and Found, Hannah Schardt, National Wildlife, Oct/Nov 2007, vol. 45, no.6
- Nectar Robbery by Bees [Xylocopa virginica (L.) and Apis mellifera L.] Contributes to the Pollination of Rabbiteye Blueberry, B. Sampson, R. Danka, and S. Stringer, USDA Agricultural Research Service
- Nesting habits, floral resources and foraging ecology of large carpenter bees (Xylocopa latipes and Xylocopa pubescens) inIndia, A. J. Solomon Raju and S. Purnachandra Rao, Current Science, vol. 90, no. 9, May 10, 2006
- Pollination of the broad bean (Vicia faba L.var. major) (Fabaceae) by wild bees and honey bees (Hymenoptera: Apoidea) and its impact on the seed production in the Tizi-Ouzou area (Algeria), M. Aouar-sadli, K. Louadi, and S. Doumandji, African Journal of Agricultural Research, vol. 3 (4), pp. 266-272, April, 2008
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