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Why do I see all these bumble bees around the Visitor Center at William B. Umstead State Park?

An inviting trail at William B. Umstead State Park
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Why do I see all these bumble bees around the Visitor Center at William B. Umstead State Park?

Tuesday, May 31, 2016 - 3:29pm
Carpenter bee on passion flower

Great question! The bulbous bees you are seeing are not the American bumble bee (or Bombus impatiens - pretty fun to say don’t you think?), but rather are the eastern carpenter bee (or Xylocopa virginica). 

Carpenter bees are notorious for, as their name suggests, doing carpentry work (so to speak), on the environment around them. The female carpenter bee uses her POWERFUL jaws to excavate through wood mediums, such as trees, wooden porches, or our houses, to create circular orifices in which to lay her eggs. She also places pollen with the eggs for the hatchlings to consume once hatched. These eggs are then defended by the males of the species. This teamwork between the mated pair increase the chances of viable offspring. The bees hibernate during the winter and are active from spring through early fall. The males are not known to sting, although the females may if provoked. 

The female carpenter bee burrows through wood, but the wood is not a carpenter bee’s diet. Carpenter bees consume nectar from flowering plants. Because of this, they are some of our greatest pollinators. A healthy prospering garden is one with all varieties of pollinators including carpenter bees. Understandably, though, many people do not care for carpenter bees to be present near their homes and other man-made wooden structures.

Though they do little damage in the way of structural weakening short-term, many view the wood burrowing carpenter bee as a nuisance. A way to steer the carpenter bee away from your man-made structures is by using treated or painted wood. Another means to deter the carpenter bee is to seal up the existing holes as soon as the bees emerge in the spring and use an almond oil or citrus oil spray on the area.

Carpenter bees are fun and exciting creatures to watch, take a moment to watch their patterns and ponder their place in our wild and wonder-filled world.

If you have a question you would like to ask a ranger, please send your questions to (if emailing, please put “Ask a Ranger” in the subject line):
Ranger Jessica Phillips
jessica.b.williams@ncparks.gov
William B. Umstead State Park
8801 Glenwood Ave.
Raleigh, NC 27617
919-571-4170
william.umstead@ncparks.gov 
 

Contact:

William B. Umstead State Park

8801 Glenwood Avenue
RaleighNC 27617
Phone919-571-4170
Our Email william.umstead@ncparks.gov, Our Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/williamumsteadstatepark/, Our Twitter Page https://twitter.com/umsteadstprk, Our Instagram Page https://www.instagram.com/williamumsteadstatepark/
Latitude: 35.890500
Longitude: -78.750200

Park Hours:

The gate at the Crabtree Creek entrance will open at 7am daily as part of a pilot program to allow early access to the trails system. From March 15th through December 1st, the family campground gate will remain open an additional hour after the park closes so those campers have access in and out the park during that time. 

Crabtree Creek Entrance:
November-February: 7am - 6pm
March, April, September, October: 7am - 8pm
May - August: 7am - 9pm
Closed Christmas Day

Reedy Creek Entrance:
November - February: 8:00am - 6pm
March, April, September, October: 8:00am - 8pm
May - August: 8:00am - 9pm
Closed Christmas Day

William B. Umstead main park gates are closed and locked promptly at posted closing time. No entry or exit is permitted after this time except for law enforcement or medical emergencies.

Park Office/Visitor Center
8am - 5pm
Closed Christmas Day

Exhibit Hall
Located in the Visitor Center
January - December, 9am - 4:30pm
Closed Christmas Day

Boathouse (canoe and row boat rental)
Weekends, beginning the first weekend in May through September. 
Saturday & Sunday: 8:30am - 4:30pm (last boat goes out at 3:30pm).

Tent and Trailer Family Campground
Season of Operation: March 15th - December 1st