They're very cool critters and I love them even though they have tunneled into my front porch deck and my carport stained posts. We had the porch painted and they don't like it! They continue to nest in our stained carport wood.
|Robbing a Penstemon|
Five interesting facts about this gentle giant.
1. These big beautiful, noisy bees are excellent pollinators. In fact, they are being studied across the globe for pollinating green house crops like passionflower, blueberries, greenhouse tomatoes and greenhouse melons.
2. They are generalist foragers and are known to pollinate garden crops and garden plants. Like 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).
3. They are buzz pollinators - meaning they use vibrations, or sonication, to release pollen grains from the flower's anthers. To release pollen carpenter bees are able to grab onto the flower and move their flight muscles rapidly, causing the flower and anthers to vibrate, dislodging pollen. About 8% of the flowers of the world are primarily pollinated using buzz pollination. Wildflower gardeners~all Dodecatheon are buzz pollinated! Eggplants, potatoes, tomatoes, blueberries and cranberries are also buzz pollinated.
5. They are nectar robbers and cheat the pollination process by breaking open the sides of flowers, like salvias and penstemons to get at the nectar!
Bonus info. The menacing/dive bombing carpenter bee you encounter is only protecting a nest. It's a male drone and he's all buzz and no sting!
Happy Pollinator Week where ever you garden!xoxogail
PS In case you need a reminder! Please, never, ever, ever, ever, ever use pesticides in your garden. The pollinators will thank you by taking up residence and pollinating your fruits, vegetables and flowers!
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.