The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Small carpenter bees: Ceratina sp.

Small Carpenter Bee (Ceratina sp.)

Over half of the pollinators visiting our peach tree were miniscule and flighty, hard to catch a glimpse of let alone capture on film.  I did manage to snag a photo of this Small Carpenter Bee (Ceratina sp.), which might be better named Teeny-tiny Carpenter Bee.  Small Carpenter Bees are sometimes confused with sweat bees, but the carpenter bees have a club-shaped abdomen, a dull metallic color (versus the brilliant color of some sweat bees), inconspicuous hair, and a pale yellow patch on the face.

Small Carpenter Bees (Ceratina sp.) are related to the larger carpenter bees that drill holes in your porch and weaken the integrity of the wood, but their life cycle is a bit different.  Ceratina bees are much more likely to be found in wild areas, where they nest in the pith of broken plant stems.  We have all five of their favorite nesting species on our farm --- elderberry, box elder, sumac, blackberry, and sunflower --- and I have a sneaking suspicion the bees might also use the large, woody stems of wingstem which are so prevalent in our floodplain.

Small Carpenter Bees make good pollinators because they can be quite numerous and aren't picky about the flowers they visit.  To encourage them in your yard, leave some brushy, wild areas around for the bees to nest in, or plant sunflowers and leave the stems standing all winter.  You may be rewarded with a horde of tiny bees visiting your flowers in the spring.

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This post is part of our Native Pollinators lunchtime series.  Read all of the entries:

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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I'm glad you mentioned these!

I was just observing a few today and noticing for the first time the many holes in one of my plantless berms from last fall from which they recently emerged.

Comment by Yanna Thu Apr 15 01:13:56 2010
I've really been blown about by the bees this spring. I think it's just because I started trying to identify them, but it seems like there are bees of so many kinds everywhere!! Have we just been ignoring them for years?
Comment by anna Thu Apr 15 12:18:08 2010

Great post thank you thought you might enjoy my machinima film on permaculture and the bees bright blessings elf ~

Comment by celestial elf Thu Mar 17 04:40:06 2011
That's a very artistic film. Unfortunately, the scientist in me kept nitpicking so that I couldn't really enjoy it. All those fields of corn that supposedly wouldn't get pollinated if the bees weren't there, for example, would have been plugging right along --- corn is one of our few crops that is wind-pollinated.
Comment by anna Thu Mar 17 08:53:41 2011

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