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Wednesday, December 2, 2015


CARPENTER BEES (Xylocopa spp) or locally in Malaysia known as Lebah Tukang or Lebah Kayu are the largest bee species. People may complain about the bees flying about under the windows and wooden furniture of their homes where they are probably being annoyed by carpenter bees. From my observation, carpenter bees are large social bees with about 3-4 cm long, with black and yellow or sometime may be black and orange body markings at the thorax. Their nests are burrowing the decaying woods and they able to spend most of their time traveling between the nest and the flowers from which they obtain food such as pollen and the nectar. Carpenter bees resemble bumblebees in both size and appearance but are not social insects. They able to construct their nests in trees or in frame buildings. By studying the marphology, most of the top of the abdomen of carpenter bees is without hairs and is shiny black in color. However by contrast, the abdomen of the so called carpenter bees is fully clothed with hairs, many of them yellow in color. If you see a number of large bees hovering near the eaves of the house or drilling in wood than you have carpenter bees. There is only few species of the large carpenter bees (Xylocopa spp) which is encountered in Malaysia as tropical carpenter bees. Normally the male bee is unable to sting but there able to mate. It is the male carpenter bee, which is most often noticed. They hover in the vicinity of the nest and will dart after any other flying insect that ventures into their territory. A common behavior of the males is to approach people if they move quickly or wave a hand in the air. The males may even hover a short distance from people causing unnecessary panic. The female however carpenter bees is capable of stinging but seldom does. She must be extremely provoked any possible incoming object (include human) before she will sting. This article in "Anim Agro Technology" I like to share information about an insect so called carpenter bees with all readers and the importance of their existance.

Carpenter bees are pollinator to many flowers in surrounding vegetation. In Malaysia from my observation it was indicated are the best pollinator to Soursop flower (In Malaysia the fruit called Durian Belanda). Soursop (Annona mauricata) ia a popular tropical fruit tree grown due to the medicinal use. Soursop flower are unique and only carpenter bees able to open the flowers followed by other insect for pollination activity. My analysis for an economic importance of carpenter bees are related to the pollination activity for many fruit trees including sour sop flowers as discussed earlier. However there are bad thing about carpenter bees. While the damage to wood from the drilling activities of a single bee is slight, the subsequent year's broods will expand the tunnel through branching activities and may cause considerable structural damage. Additionally, they will commonly defecate on the wall or other item directly below the opening causing stains. Carpenter bees actually from my observation do not eat wood. They able to excavate the tunnels for shelter and as chambers in which to rear their young. They usually attack unpainted suitable wood objects such as doors, windowsills, roof eaves, shingles, railings, telephone poles and sometimes wooden lawn furniture. A carpenter bee begins her nest by drilling a nearly perfectly round entrance hole (about 2-3 cm diameter) into the wood. This hole is usually against the grain of the wood. When the tunnel is about 1 inch deep, the bee turns at right angles to the initial hole and tunnels with the grain of the wood. From my observation, the carpenter bees prefer to attack wood that is greater than two inches thick and secure for nesting.

The Life Cycle of carpenter bees about one year. In tropical country such as in Malaysia the carpenter bees normally active through out the year but less activity during the monsoon season. For temperate carpenter bees, normally the young adult male and female bees hibernate in the tunnels during the winter. The temperate carpenter bee will mate in the spring and set about to clean out and enlarge the old tunnels or to excavate new ones as brood chambers for their young. Each chamber is provisioned with a portion of "bee bread", a mixture of pollen and regurgitated nectar, which serves as food for the larvae. An egg is deposited on the food supply and each chamber is sealed off. There are typically 6 to 8 chambers created by the female bee. The larvae that hatch from the eggs complete their development and pupate. Newly developed adult carpenter bees emerge in August, feed on nectar and return to the tunnels to over-winter. My observation from a local farmers in the state of Johore recently, I found out that carpenter bees are the best pollinator to soursop flowers that are having poor pollination rate. This bees are able to open the flowers before other pollinator insect able to move in with the pollen. The capability and strength of carpenter bee able to assist the pollination of carpenter bees that reared by preparing the suitable wood for their nesting in the farms. Soursop plant (fruits and leaves) are claimed to be the best to cure cancer problems in many testimonial. The scientific study ye to be done according from the testimonial by scientist.

It was easy to locate the wood in where carpenter bees exists. The bees are active and apply an insecticidal dust directly into nest openings. This is best accomplished by using a duster that will puff the dust up into the tunnel and coat the sides. To avoid possible stings it was advisable to treat the area at night. Use a flashlight, over which a piece of red cellophane has been taped. From the literature, the bees cannot see the red light but we should be able to see the openings. The activity of treatment during the daytime the best to use a pyrethrum spray or wasp and hornet spray to knock down any bees flying about. From my experience, it is advisable to wear protective clothing, gloves, goggles and a respirator or dust mask because the insecticidal dust will frequently become airborne and may drop down onto you as you dust the tunnel. Launder any contaminated clothing immediately (do not mix with other household laundry items) and take a shower to remove and insecticidal dust. Because of the obvious risks associated with treating carpenter bee holes in eaves or soffits, many homeowners will contract with a licensed pest control company to provide this service. Do not plug the holes immediately!. The bees should be able to pass freely through the nest entrance where they will contact the dust and distribute it inside the tunnels. Any new matured bees will emerge through the openings and contact the dust placed there. It is a good idea to treat in the spring when the bees are first observed, again in mid-summer to kill any bees which may not have acquired a sufficient treatment when they emerged, and a third time in early fall to contact any over-wintering bees occupying the tunnels. In the fall, the holes should be filled with wood putty or wooden dowels and the entire wood surface painted or varnished. Stained wood is not usually protected from attack. In Malaysia the control activity for carpenter bees throughout the year. I hope this info are able to add our knowledge about carpenter bees. Wasallam!.
M Anem,
Senior Agronomist,
Precint 11, Putrajaya,
WP, Malaysia.
(28 Rejab 1436H)
Posted from:
Room 268, Serena Hotel Faisalabad,
Club Road, Faisalabad,
Attend Workshop on Climate Chane (29 - 5 Disember 2015)

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