Carpenter bees and bumble bees can often be mistaken for each other. They may look similar but there are many differences between the two.
The easiest way to tell if you are looking at a bumble bee or a carpenter bee is the appearance of their abdomen. Bumble bees have yellow and black hair on their body that makes them appear fuzzy. Carpenter bees also have hair, but only on a small area of their bodies. The rest of their body is black and shiny. If you look closely, you might see that their body has a purple or green metallic shine. Another difference between carpenter bees and bumble bees is their size. Carpenter bees are also a bit bigger than bumble bees.
Carpenter bees and bumble bees live in different areas. Bumble bees live in hives with other bumble bees to raise their young. Their hives are relatively small compared to honey bee hives. Their hives may be located in abandoned bird nests, under pieces of wood, or in underground tunnels. On the other hand, carpenter bees create holes and nest in wood. They usually live alone. They also might live in abandoned wood holes that were made by rodents. Most of the time they stay in soft varieties of wood that are unpainted and weathered. Houses with a carpenter bee infestation may be older, with rotting wood.
The third way to differentiate a bumble bee from a carpenter bee is their behavior. Bumble bees are not very aggressive to humans and they will only be aggressive if they feel threatened by you. Male bumble bees cannot sting, only females can. Carpenter bees are more aggressive. If you get close to their nest, they may swoop down on you to protect it. Similar to bumble bees, only female carpenter bees can sting you. Both bumble bee and carpenter bee stings can be dangerous, if you have an allergy.