I was perfectly set up at my kitchen table: The laptop was hooked to a larger external monitor so I could see my virtual cadavers on the big screen. All my books, notes and paper were spread before me in a semi-circle. I'd been studying well into the morning by now. Leaning back in the chair, stretching and yawning, I looked out the open doors to the back deck and nearly fell over. It was swarming with bees.
Now, you may ask "are you sure it's a carpenter?" Well, it's a good question. They may not, afterall, be carrying their union card. And you may not catch them with a mouthful of sawdust. So let me point out some distinctive features of these fine craftsbugs.
Look at this one hanging on -- come on, you know it's cool!
So, the good news is, the males don't have stingers at all. The bad news is, only the females dig these holes, so they're the only ones you'll likely ever have to deal with. But, the other good news is, they rarely use their stinger. In fact, you can handle these if you're careful and so inclined to do so.
However, as much as some of us would like to keep these around as pollinators (and heck, just for company) they have the unfortunate habit of chewing through wood. So I set out to discourage this -- and poison-free as well. I've read that you can simply plug up the hole with some wood putty. But I found this didn't deter them for a second. They just started chewing right back through it, possibly rather annoyed that they came back after lunch break to find their new sugarshack had just been stuffed with crap.
Still not wanting to coat the place with poison, I experimented with different glues (some of which were probably poisonous to something, yeah). Nope. They just regarded it as a minor setback and went back to work excavating. In the end, I went out there with a heated glue gun and filled the holes. I was surprised at how much I had to pump in before it started overflowing. I was also surprised to see this did not stop one very determined bee from getting itself half-stuck in glue.
(R.I.P, pretty Bee)
So I stood there a while, right arm across my waist, left arm bent up and making a fist upon which I could prop my befuddled head. And I thunk it over.
And here, folks, is the result of all that thinkerating:
I started sticking some spare pegs into the holes. They were a perfect fit! Wood screw hole covers would have worked just fine but this is what I had on hand.
So, a bit of glue, in went the peg and voila! They can't get in now! I placed eight of these in this way and watched to see what the little ladies would do about it. Sure enough, they could not get back in. Now, twice they started new holes and those got pegged as well. Finally, I was sure they had given up. Until I saw this:
Now, you've got to admire that tenacity! Not wanting to let all that hard work go to waste, she is attempting to gain entrance to her gallery from the side. She'd have done it, too, if I hadn't run her off. Sorry, sister.
So there you have it. A short visit from some friends that I unfortunately had to turn away. I closed up their properties and posted tiny little "Condemned" signs on them. But I suspect the were very soon happily chewing through someone else's deck.
Check back again soon as I'll be telling all about this beautiful lady and the conversation we had about our children: