What Do Carpenter Bees Eat?

What do carpenter bees eat? This question has been bothering many people as they watch these six-legged friends bore holes in wood with their impressive mandibles.

Is wood a great food source for these adult bees to feed their eggs and larvae?

What are Carpenter Bees?

Carpenter bee on flower

Carpenter bees are a type of species belonging to the genus Xylocopa, from the ancient Greek word, xylokopos, meaning wood-cutter.

This type of bee was given its common name due to its nesting behavior of burrowing into hardwood or bamboo.

Carpenter bee is a solitary insect

Carpenter bees are solitary bees. They live individually in nests in the trees, in wood frames, and in any other wooden structure or part of a house or building.

This is one difference between the carpenter bees and the bumblebees or honeybees.

Carpenter bee infestation

In large numbers, these insects can create a carpenter bee infestation.

Adult female carpenter bees would create too many holes that can eventually cause structural damage. Female bees are the ones that drill these holes to lay their eggs.

What do Carpenter Bees look like?

Judging by its look, a carpenter bee may look like a bumble bee.

The basic rule in telling them apart is by looking at their abdomen. Carpenter bees have shiny abdomens, whereas bumble bees have abdomens covered with dense hair.

Male carpenter bees generally have white or yellow faces, and female carpenter bees do not have the distinct pollen basket (corbicula) present on their hind legs.

Carpenter bees have powerful mandibles that they use for boring into wooden structures to build their nests.

This anatomical difference from other bees lit up the misconception that carpenter bees have different diets from other bees. 

A carpenter bee looks like a bumble bee

What do Carpenter Bees Eat and Drink?

Carpenter bees are herbivores that feed primarily on nectar and pollen. Just like other bees, carpenter bees eat nectar and pollen and drink water to quench their thirst. 

Nectar and pollen are gathered from flowers of different flowering plants available around the area. As the bees go out of their tunnels to forage on these food sources, they drink water along the way. 

Droplets of water excreted on the leaves of the plants are one of the main sources of thirst-quenchers for our six-legged friends.

These bees also collect water from water puddles, pond edges, bird baths, and even hummingbird feeders. 

What is Carpenter Bee’s Favorite Food?

A carpenter bee’s favorite food is nectar and pollen


Nectar is a liquid taken in by bees from the flowers of various plants. It is sweet and rich in carbohydrates.

The nectars of these flowers provide the bees with the nutrition that their bodies need and the energy to keep working. 


On the other hand, pollens are powdery substances present in any plant that produces seeds. These pollens are rich in elements and substances that are essential for development and survival.

Some of these elements and substances are protein, carbohydrates, amino acids, and fatty acids.

Do Carpenter Bees Eat Wood?

Do Carpenter Bees Eat Wood

Since these carpenter bees have strong mandibles that they use to bore into wood, people most often ask this question: does a carpenter bee eat wood?

This bee’s wood-boring tendency is for purposes of shelter and not a part of their diet. Carpenter bees DO NOT eat wood. These insects burrow into hardwoods to create a tunnel to build their nests. Woods like cedar, cypress, bamboo, and redwood are attractive home areas for carpenter bees. 

The entrance of each hole is around half an inch wide in diameter. Every single hole creates a main tunnel that may have many adjacent tunnels. These nesting tunnels are also used to store food for their larvae.

These bees use their strong mandibles to drill holes into the wood. The sawdust that comes off during the boring process is discarded by bees.

Some wooden particles are taken in but later on regurgitated inside the tunnels to build partitions between the brood cells in the tunnel. 

End point: Carpenter bees DO NOT eat wood.

Do Carpenter Bees Eat Insects?

This question most likely was a product of the fact that a namesake animal, the carpenter ants, includes insects in their diets. Carpenter ants love eating termites, dead insects, some dead worms, food wastes, and fruit juices.

Despite the similarity in name, carpenter bees do not eat insects. Our industrious six-legged helpers also do not eat fruits and other food sources that their ant counterpart gathers their food from.

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