Have you seen bumblebees hovering and dancing near a wooden structure lately? They look like bumblebees but they’re not. They’re carpenter bees.
Carpenter bees are easy to identify once you know this trait: They have shiny black abdomens, noticeable in flight.
Here’s a side-by-side comparison (not to scale) — carpenter bee on the left, bumblebee on the right. Notice the shiny abdomen on the carpenter bee and hairy abdomen on the bumblebee.
If you see carpenter bees near your house should you worry? I don’t.
Carpenter bees don’t eat the wood and they are barely social. A few females may nest together but that’s the extent of it. Their nests are not large colonies and they don’t have a queen. The entire older generation dies off just before the new young fly so there’s little overlap.
A few carpenter bees have nested somewhere at the front of my 110-year-old house every April for at least a decade. They never become an “infestation.”
I leave the carpenter bees unharmed and watch with wonder.
(photos of stationary bees by Chuck Tague. photo of flying carpenter bee from Wikimedia Commons; click on the image to see the original)