Eastern Carpenter Bees: Dead from unknown causes

male and female eastern carpenter bees?
April 5, 2010
Wonderful site, I’ve been enjoying it for years now.
We have these bees every year in the spring, hovering mostly in one place near our shed and fence, but agressively chasing each other.
They seem to nest in the underside of the wooden rafters of the shed in little holes, new ones each year, with little piles of sawdust underneath.
My kids are terrified of them (and insist that they are bumblebees), but really they don’t seem agressive and let me walk right up to them.
This year, however, we found two dead ones. That’s never happened before. When I realized one was male and one female I rearranged them, so you could see the faces side by side. Do they kill one another? or do you think something else did them in?
Central New Jersey

Carpenter Bees: Male on Right

Hi Sara,
You are absolutely correct.  These are Eastern Carpenter Bees, and we are happy that you are showing the black faced female next to the white or yellow faced male.  We suspect some blood sucking predator may have preyed upon your bees, and we are certain they were not killed by one another.  It is kind of early in the year for a predator like the Bee Killer Robber Fly, so we really don’t have a theory on what the assassin may have been.

Update:  July 25, 2015
If the adult parasitoid Tiger Bee Fly completes metamorphosis after the adult Carpenter Bee emerges, that might explain the Eastern Carpenter Bees dead from unknown causes.

14 thoughts on “Eastern Carpenter Bees: Dead from unknown causes”

  1. Although this is an old posting, I have carpenter bees as well and routinely see that actually fall out of the air, struggle for five to ten minutes and die. Just happened [6/3/13 1:15PM] again – I watched this whole process over ten minutes. Very troubling!

  2. I found another site that asked the question, ‘Do carpenter bees play dead?’ describing the same thing as I, with the twist that she observed the behavior after what seemed like a ‘fight’ between two bees. And indeed, I just checked again [2:23PM] and the ‘dead’ bee is gone. So, could they be stinging/stunning each other during a mating ‘fight?’

  3. For two years in a row at about this time of year, the carpenter bees fall from a tree I have in my front yard. They go to this tree when it blooms, but then over a several day period I’ll have a pile of dead carpenter bees underneath the tree. I’ve seen them fall, struggle along the ground and within 15 or 20 minutes they die. At first I thought it might be the pest control people, but they only spray around the foundation, then I noticed about a block away carpenter bees dead on the sidewalk below a tree exactly like mine. I’m assuming it has to do with this type of tree, but I’ve never heard of such a thing.

  4. I do not worry about the carpenter bees now that they are gone. They were ruining my home and barn and costing thousands of dollars. So good bye carpenter bees.

  5. I’ve been searching to try to find an explanation but I can’t… This site is the closest I’ve come. I have wood bees that live in my deck railing. This year, I’m finding at least 5 males a day, slowly dying or dead every day! From what I understand, they die after mating INSIDE the nest. But can they also die outside of it? I’m so sad seeing it everyday. ?

  6. Same here..two years in a row now. Found about 7 dead or almost dead struggling under the holes of their nest in our car port. Don’t remember it happening in prior years, just the last two.

  7. Though these comments were years ago, they describe exactly what I’ve been seeing this spring: multiple dead carpenter bees on our porch steps every morning (they have holes nearby). No idea what could be killing them, but it is sad!


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