There can’t be anybody left who doesn’t know about our pollinator crisis. I was saddened recently when an experienced beekeeper who is profoundly attentive to her bees told me that she lost a third of her hives over the last year. It can’t be overstated that our friend over millennia, Apis mellifera, is in deep trouble and therefore so are we.
This makes our remaining pollinators even more important. Everyone recognizes bumblebees and knows that they are active pollinators, and in my area most people recognize the coal black stylish looking carpenter bee. Unfortunately, they recognize it because they think it is a danger to their houses and tend to reach for spray the minute they see it. Carpenter bees are active pollinators and adapted to our area and spraying them is a really, really bad idea under most circumstances, but when I did a search on them to find a photograph, I was horrified to find that almost all the hits that I found were about exterminating them and advised application of “residual pesticides,” i.e. pesticides that leave residues which kill for a long time after they are sprayed. This is sick stuff, in my view, especially since it kills large numbers of other species. On the other hand, I own a house with exposed wood beams and don’t want my house bored into any more than anybody else does. I have repeatedly noticed that the carpenter bees like cottonwood, and have decided to keep a pile of cottonwood logs and branches where the bees can burrow around at peace. I read that they also will not attack painted wood. Clearly, I will be watching my beams closely for signs of invasion, and if I see carpenter bee activity I will consult an entomologist (not an exterminator, since they have a business interest in selling me their poisonous services) about what to do. But so far that hasn’t happened. And I guess that’s my real point: the mere sight of something that might potentially be harmful but that is minding its own business at the moment is not a reason to get reactive and act harmfully. The mindset of permaculture and homesteading is to avoid making a hazard out of something that isn’t. This point is rather neatly illustrated below:
Help our bees. All of them.