Bees, hornets and wasps are all examples of flying insects that can sting. Even though most people lump all three of these three bugs into a single category—namely bees—there are distinct differences in both the appearance and the demeanor of each of these insect species. While some are a bit more tolerant of animal and human activity, others can be extremely short-tempered and aggressive—especially at this time of year.
Three different bee species inhabit the Finger Lakes Region: Honeybees, bumblebees, and carpenter bees. Anyone who has a flower garden is no doubt familiar with the first two. Both of these bee species are beneficial because they pollinate crops, fruit trees, and other plants. Both are colonial in nature as well, meaning that they live together in a social community made up of a queen bee, drones, and worker bees.
Bees make and store honey to feed their young and to share for winter survival food. Honeybees build their hives in hollow trees, attics, eaves, chimneys, and bee boxes while bumblebees more often nest underground. Of the three species, only the honeybee can be somewhat domesticated and used for personal or commercial honey production. Beekeepers often rent out their bee boxes to farmers to ensure the pollination of crops and fruit trees.
Carpenter bees are solitary and do not form community groups. They build single nests just for themselves and only feed their own young. These large bees have the ability to drill into wood, which is where the “carpenter” moniker comes from. Anyone who has cedar or pine fascia on their house is subject to carpenter bee damage because of the holes and tunnels that the insect drills into the wood to lay its eggs and nurture its larva.