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I'm BEE-ing watched

Posted: Fri May 08, 2015 12:19 am
by RedBeard1987
So after cheking the plants after work I decided to enjoy some time in my gazebo. Then I get the feeling I'm being watched. I notice this bee hovering just outside the entrance....silently floating about. Then it's gone only to pop up to the left a second later....hovering....watching. then I watch it turn and fly away then not a second later it's there in the same spot....hovering...watching. it's like it's 10 bees. It is everywhere and no where at the same time. When I don't see it I hear it buzzing behind me. I turn then it's infront of the gazebo again. But it's always facing me...hovering.... watching. This has been going on for roughly 20 minutes. I tried snapping a picture but he was to crafty.

I've never been weirded out by a bee before. A ninja bee at that. And as I press submit he is gone. We shall meet again, ninja bee.

Re: I'm BEE-ing watched

Posted: Fri May 08, 2015 12:47 am
by imafan26
The hive may be nearby in a tree or even in the roof of your gazebo. Bees usually won't bother you if you don't make sudden motions or noises or you don't smell funny to them.

I have foraging bees in my plants every day. I can usually work within 6 inches of them as long as I don't make sudden moves. If I get to close to them, they will give a warning buzz. For the most part I think they are used to seeing me in the garden all of the time and do not consider me a danger. The last time I got stung was when I was weeding the blue daze along the driveway and a bee was on my hoe matic when I grabbed the handle. That was several years ago.

I work with beehives now at the garden center. The guard bees are aggressive and a suit is needed within 25 ft of the hive. They follow our team out every time we do a hive check. But then again we do steal their honey.

Re: I'm BEE-ing watched

Posted: Fri May 08, 2015 1:25 am
by applestar
Well, if it was big and black and round, then it was most likely a carpenter/wood bee. The female bores a 1/2" round hole usually upwards in almost any type of lumber, then tunnels up to around 8 egg chambers along the inside of the wood. Since the chambers are sealed after each one, her babies will dig their way out and leave thin elongated holes in the side of the lumber.

Apparently, the carpenter bees return to their hatching site the following year. Repeated annual nesting by the exponentially increasing number of carpenter bees could potentially significantly weaken the structure.

Fortunately, Carpenter bees are territorial and defend their nest area from other carpenter bees.

They try to intimidate humans that approach too close by hovering at your eye level or just above your head. If hovering is insufficient and they feel their nest is threatened, they head butt you on the forehead, so they like to hover right in front of your forehead.

I've had to take extreme measures when they made nests in garden and picnic benches, kids playground, etc. critical structures, but for the most part, they are harmless. I occasionally harass them by spraying them with water if I am watering, but I'm unfazed by their close proximity and have had them fly up between my arms while leaning on the patio table, etc.

If you can manage a direct hit by blowing air at them, it's amusing to see them break off and fly away.

Because they are dedicated about chasing off any other flying creature from their nest area, they will prevent paper wasps from building a nest in the vicinity, and I have seen them chase off monarch butterflies and even humming birds.

Re: I'm BEE-ing watched

Posted: Fri May 08, 2015 9:12 am
by !potatoes!
it could also be a syrphid (hoverfly), most of which are bee-mimics. how big was it?

Re: I'm BEE-ing watched

Posted: Fri May 08, 2015 11:10 am
by rainbowgardener
Nice description, applestar! I've never been "head-butted" by one. Sounds like an interesting experience!

The carpenter bees are fierce around our wooden deck this year. The car that parks under it gets covered in sawdust in a few hours... I just ordered this stuff: ... repellent/

Should have done it a long time ago.

I also heard that they are very sensitive to noise vibration, so while I am waiting for the citrifresh, I may try setting up a boom box where they keep boring...

Re: I'm BEE-ing watched

Posted: Sat May 09, 2015 12:42 am
by imafan26
Carpenter bees are attracted more to unpainted surfaces. Going around yearly to caulk and fill holes and touch up paint usually is the best deterrent.

The bees are still good pollinators. They like blue flowers and tubular flowers. They really go for vervain and lavender bending the spikes over. We actually put up bundles of bamboo in a tree and encourage them to nest there instead. They are solitary bees so they do not work cooperatively, but the bamboo bundles provide many 'apartments' for the bees.

Re: I'm BEE-ing watched

Posted: Sat May 09, 2015 12:54 am
by RedBeard1987
wow i feel like i just learned so much in just a couple minutes.

your knowledge always astounds me applestar! and sounds like this may be exactly whats going on. the bees in question are large and black in back and yellow before the head. the hovering at eye level. it seemed like it was gaurding a nest. do bees really do that? have specific jobs like ants do? Nature always amazes me. i took a look around and didnt see a nest in or outside of the gazebo but there are quite a few trees near by as well. If it is a carpenter bee would i notice a physical nest, or would it just be a hole in the wood? Im really loving learning about my backyard eco system.

Re: I'm BEE-ing watched

Posted: Sat May 09, 2015 1:08 pm
by LIcenter
I'm surprised how early these little(big) guys showed up this year. Another thing about them is they have there own highway system. If you pay close attention you will see they follow the exact same route when returning from where ever. I have an overhead electric line that goes to an out-shed that runs to the back of my garage. Everytime they come back to eat (I'm guessing) more of my garage, they follow that wire precisely. last year they were a little unorganized, but this year they are on it like a laser.