As a wildlife photographer, I am constantly on the lookout for fascinating creatures to capture through my lens. Recently, I had the pleasure of encountering a remarkable insect, the Carpenter Bee, while exploring the scenic county roads near the enchanting Ouachita National Forest in Arkansas. In this blog post, I will share my experience photographing this unique species and shed light on the captivating characteristics and behavior of Carpenter Bees.

Carpenter Bee On Wildflower

Carpenter Bee On Wildflower

Discovering Carpenter Bees:

During my photographic expedition, I was immediately drawn to the striking appearance of the Carpenter Bee. These magnificent insects are known for their large size and distinct black and yellow striped bodies, a coloration commonly associated with bees. However, a closer look reveals notable differences that set them apart from their bumblebee relatives.

Distinguishing Carpenter Bees:

Unlike Bumblebees, Carpenter Bees possess a sleek, black, and shiny abdomen. This contrasts with the fuzzy, yellow and black abdomen of Bumblebees. This visual distinction allows for quick identification and helps differentiate between these two often-confused species. Furthermore, Carpenter Bees exhibit a solitary nature, preferring to create their nests individually rather than living in hives like bumblebees.

The Carpenter Bee’s Remarkable Behavior:

What truly sets Carpenter Bees apart is their remarkable ability to bore into wood, which lends them their unique name. These industrious creatures burrow into wooden structures, such as trees, wooden furniture, or even porch railings, to create their nests. However, this behavior, while fascinating, can also lead to significant structural damage.

The Destructive Side of Carpenter Bees:

Carpenter Bees, particularly the females, chew galleries into the wood to prepare suitable nesting sites. While their drilling techniques may seem impressive, they can compromise the integrity of wooden structures, resulting in costly repairs. Over time, the accumulated tunnels weaken the wood, potentially causing structural issues.

Frass: A Telltale Sign:

If you suspect Carpenter Bees have made their presence known, keep an eye out for yellowish sawdust, known as frass. This telltale sign of their activity can often be found near the entry holes of their burrows. The accumulation of frass serves as an unmistakable indicator that Carpenter Bees are nearby, establishing their nests within the wood.

Can carpenter bees sting or bite you?

Yes, carpenter bees can sting you, but they are not generally aggressive and only sting if provoked. Female carpenter bees have stingers that contain venom, and they are able to sting more than once. However, they are not likely to sting unless you are handling them or poking your fingers into their burrows. Male carpenter bees do not have stingers, but they are territorial and may hover closely to people, especially attracted to sudden movements. If you see a carpenter bee coming towards you, it is probably a male, and it will put on a threatening display as a defense mechanism. If you leave carpenter bees alone, they will leave you alone.

Appreciating Carpenter Bees:

Although their nesting habits may lead to concerns about property damage, it is essential to remember that Carpenter Bees play a vital role in our ecosystem. As pollinators, they assist in the fertilization of various flowering plants, ensuring the continuation of plant species. While they may be intriguing subjects for wildlife photographers like myself, it is important to strike a balance between admiration and understanding their impact on our surroundings.


Encountering the Carpenter Bee in the picturesque landscapes near the Ouachita National Forest was a memorable experience. These large, black and yellow striped insects with their fascinating ability to burrow into wood provided a captivating photographic opportunity. However, it is crucial to remain vigilant when it comes to their potential impact on wooden structures. By appreciating their uniqueness while being mindful of their nesting habits, we can coexist with these remarkable creatures and ensure their vital contribution to our environment remains intact.

Gear Used:

  • Camera: Canon EOS R7
  • Lens: RF100-500 mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM


  • Location: Near The Ouachita National Forest (Arkansas)
  • Date and Time Taken: September 14, 2022 (4:08 P. M.)
  • Exposure Mode: Manual
  • Aperture: f8
  • Shutter speed: 1/3200
  • ISO: 2500 (Auto)
  • Focal Length: 500 mm

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