Bees at Berkshire Museum
Bees at Berkshire Museum (Eagle file)

Q: We have large bees, which are mostly black with yellow on the upper back of their body, that hover around all day. They are at the front of our garage and the back of our garage.

We're not sure if they bite or not, but will find out as soon as my husband tries to paint the back of our garage.

Last year they were only at the back of our garage and this year they are also at the front and seem to have multiplied.

What kind of bee are they (if they are bees)?

A: Identification of bees, with the little information you have provided is difficult. I suggest that they may be carpenter bees, obvious at this season, often hovering around wooden structures.

Check to see if there are neatly "drilled" holes in the siding below the eaves. That would confirm my suggestion.

Carpenter bees are mostly docile and males are harmless, since they do not have a stinger. Female carpenter bees are capable of stinging, but they rarely sting unless caught in the hand or otherwise directly
provoked.

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State Representative Stephen Kulik (D-Worthington) has proposed bill H749, an act relative to the permanent protection of what is left of Massachusetts' oldest trees on state land. Protected by administrative policies, which could change at any time, it is time to add permanence to this protection.

Our heritage goes back much more than a few generations. Consider, for instance, our forests, and what we see today driving through the Berkshire valleys, with hills and mountain sides covered with trees. Much of what we think of as having always been there, is, in reality second or third growth, meaning the trees have been harvested, re-grown, and harvested again. In some instances fire and storms have been the culprits, and not the ax or saw.

In many cases, open pasture and crop lands have been harvested only once as far back as the early 1800s and sometimes, earlier. Many are returning to forest now because of abandonment of local farms, in itself a sorry case.

Our true heritage is the forest in Massachusetts totaling but 1,500 acres that contain trees that have never been felled by man. These trees, called "old growth," remain, not because of altruism but rather location; they quite simply have been inaccessible to the logger or too steep and rocky to be agricultural or commercial value.

Fifteen hundred acres isn't much, especially when we consider Massachusetts has nearly three million forested acres out of a total of five million.

You can contact your local Representatives asking for support of H749 or contact Kulik urging him on, at 1 Sugarloaf St., South Deerfield, MA 01373 or email him at stephen.kulik@mahouse.gov.

Questions and comments for Thom Smith: Email Naturewatch@live.com