The northeast is home to numerous airborne insect species that inflict painful, and medically significant stings to humans. Some of the most well known venomous airborne insect species in the region include European honey bees, baldfaced hornets, eastern yellowjackets, and giant hornets. While many people have sustained at least one bee or yellow jacket sting in the past, there exists some confusion concerning whether or not bumblebees and solitary bee species, such as carpenter bees, are able to inflict stings to humans.

Carpenter bees and bumblebees are often confused with one another, as both insects are relatively large, plump and hairy. Bumblebees generally nest below the ground, but they have been found nesting within certain areas in homes, such as wall cavities and dryer vents. Carpenter bees are considered pests due to their habit of carving nesting cavities into cosmetic and structural wood sources, but the bees generally carve nests into natural wood sources, like trees. While both carpenter bees and bumblebees can be found nesting within homes, they are not usually aggressive. That being said, if these bees become disturbed or threatened, females will not hesitate to inflict stings. Unlike honey bees, bumblebees and carpenter bees possess smooth, as opposed to barbed stingers. Therefore, individual carpenter bees and bumblebees can sting a human multiple times.

Carpenter bees are quite docile, and it takes a lot to provoke defensive behavior in the insects. Since carpenter bees are solitary, rather than social, like bumblebees and honey bees, they have no nest to defend, which explains why carpenter bee stings are rarely inflicted on humans. Honey bees, baldfaced hornets and giant hornets are, however, aggressive, and they will also inflict repeated stings in defense of their nest and queen. Of these three species, baldfaced hornets are the least aggressive, and some experts state that baldfaced hornets have an undeserved reputation for being fierce and dangerous insects.

Have you ever found bumblebees emerging from their nests through holes in the ground?