Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox and other native plants for pollinators

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Nectar Robbers


Carpenter bees are notorious nectar robbers. Their big body makes it hard to fit into some flowers and they will drill or cut into the corolla of a plant to get at the nectar.

The stinkers are cheating the flowers; they get the nectar without a pollen transfer. I am not too worried, pollination must be happening, there are plenty of offspring.

The next time you're in the garden check the corollas on the tubular plants (penstemon, salvia, cuphea) for evidence that the nectar robbers have been there.

xoxogail

PS You can read more about Carpenter bees here and here.


Gail Eichelberger is a gardener and therapist in Middle Tennessee. She loves wildflowers and native plants and thoroughly enjoys writing about the ones she grows at Clay and Limestone. She reminds all that the words and images are the property of the author and cannot be used without written permission.

15 comments:

  1. I didn't know this! I will check.

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  2. I love carpenter bees and don't mind the flower drilling one bit. A lot of the plants they co-evolved with have disappeared and been replaced by exotics so they had to invent a work around. Well, that's my theory. One of the coolest things about carpenter bees is that you can play fetch with them. If you see a male hovering nearby toss a bee-sized pebble past him. He will charge after it and then return to his original spot. This is a great trick to show kids to get them to fall in love with bees.

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  3. Hi Gail, i love your name for these bees! And the color of that flower is so very beautiful.

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  4. I will have to look for evidence of the carpenter bees!

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  5. That's one of the first things I see in spring, carpenter bees drilling on the daffodils! The carpenters always seem to be out before the other bees (or at least I notice them first, they are so big).

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  6. Yes, the nectar robbers have been piercing the sides of my Bleeding Hearts (Lamprocapnos spectabilis). They are huge bees, but I welcome them in the garden because they are harmless, beneficial pollinators. :-)

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  7. I didn' t know they could steal nectar like that. I do encourage bees but I do rather worry when I find carpenter bees in the house in May. I live in a sixteenth century heavily timbered house and I don' t like the thought of them living in the house with me given their destructive ways. I only ever find individuals though and I can never work out where they are coming from.

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  8. Yes, this is short, Gail! I finally made it to the post. ;-) Maybe this is the summer I will figure out what all kinds of bees make our yard their home or feeding ground.

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  9. I don't usually see these bees in my garden, but they're often around the Idea Garden, our MG display garden. They're huge!

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  10. I'll go check my penstemons!

    I did see a lot of large bees around earlier this year. They were acting a bit funny. They kept coming up to the windows of the house to peek in. Maybe they were wondering why I wasn't out in the garden? :)

    Couldn't tell if they were bumblebees or carpenters. How can you tell the difference? (Presuming you don't actually see a bee excavating your wooden deck.)

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  11. In our garden it is the Tecoma. But there are MANY flowers, the next wave is coming after I deadheaded.

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  12. Gosh, I did not know that Carpenter Bees behaved in this way, I will be looking more closely. Thankyou for the links too.

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  13. Thanks for that reminder. I remember reading that at some point. I have lots of carpenter bees and love to watch them!

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  14. Thanks for sharing wonderful information, it is really nice information.

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  15. I will have to check out the tubular plants for sure Gail and see who might be robbing them.

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Let us be grateful to people who make us happy;
they are the charming gardeners
who make our souls blossom.


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