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My house (in Israel) has a concrete structure, with a decorative veneer of Jerusalem Stone at least an inch thick. Yesterday I came out to discover a little hole in the wall - and a pair of bees coming in and out of it! (See video)

enter image description here

This wall is no more than 5-6 years old, and I have never drilled anything there; they're not reusing a human-made hole. I must conclude that the bees somehow dug that hole.

Is that possible? What kind of bee could do this?

Update: As interesting as these bees are I didn't want them living in my wall, so I filled up the hole with a silicone-type glue. A few hours later, they had dug through that, too.

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  • $\begingroup$ I don't know the answer to your question, but from the video it looks possible that the bees adapted an existing hole/crevice and added mud around it, giving the appearance that they drilled a perfect hole. $\endgroup$ – Bryan Hanson Apr 2 '20 at 12:11
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Here's a paper in Current Biology1 on the discovery of a species of bee (Anthophora pueblo) in Utah (US) that burrows through sandstone. Pretty cool!

Sandstone is harder than limestone, so I suppose it could be possible for this type of bee to get through your wall material, though Utah is a long flight from Israel.

Perhaps you have discovered a related species of Anthophora local to where you live (perhaps this one?), except that it is unclear if the bee in your picture has the same large mandibles that would help it dig through stone:

As sandstone is harder than other substrates bees excavate (e.g., sand or soil), higher energy and time costs are expected. Mandible wear is consistently seen in older females, a consequence of excavation that likely limits their further use.

Unless you have a lot of similarly-sized and -shaped holes in your wall material, with large-mandible-d bees coming and going, it seems reasonable to infer that this hole came from something else and that these particular bees are just reusing it.


1. Orr, M.C., Griswold, T., Pitts, J.P. and Parker, F.D., 2016. A new bee species that excavates sandstone nests. Current Biology, 26(17), pp.R792-R793.

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    $\begingroup$ It's best practice to spell out references to papers in full, as links may go dead after a while. $\endgroup$ – AliceD Apr 2 '20 at 19:13
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    $\begingroup$ I would not expect a DOI link to go dead. $\endgroup$ – Alex Reynolds Apr 2 '20 at 20:36
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for changing all that. $\endgroup$ – AliceD Apr 2 '20 at 22:15
  • $\begingroup$ Can you explain why you would expect lots of similar holes if these were excavating bees? It's my understanding that these are solitary bees, so they wouldn't necessarily have other relatives trying to live nearby? Also see my update - these bees definitely can dig through glue, at least. $\endgroup$ – Shaul Behr Apr 6 '20 at 9:15
  • $\begingroup$ @Shaul Behr: And, moreover, given how compatible the size of the hole and size of the bee are... $\endgroup$ – The_Sympathizer Apr 6 '20 at 15:59

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