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How to Get Rid of Carpenter Bees

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how to get rid of carpenter bees

Have you noticed holes in your eaves, outdoor furniture, or fence posts? If so, you could have a carpenter bee infestation!

While carpenter bees play an important role in pollination, they can do a number on your wood structures, so you have to address infestations quickly.

Fortunately, you don’t have to do it alone. Pest Dude is here to help!

In this blog, we’ve compiled our extensive experience to help you learn how to get rid of carpenter bees around your home.

Safety Considerations

Before you get to work on your carpenter bee infestation, follow these safety tips:

  • Wear Protective Clothing: Always wear long sleeves, gloves, and eye protection to prevent bee stings and protect your skin from irritants.
  • Avoid Sudden Movements: When near carpenter bees, avoid fast or sudden movements to prevent provoking them. These bees are generally not aggressive but may sting if they feel threatened.
  • Time Your Approach: Plan to deal with carpenter bees either early in the morning or late in the evening when they are less active.
  • Use Safe Chemicals: If you decide to use insecticidal sprays or powders, choose products that are specifically designed to be safe for outdoor use and less harmful to the environment and other wildlife.
  • Keep Bystanders Away: Ensure that pets and people, especially children, are kept at a safe distance from the area being treated.

How to Get Rid of Carpenter Bees

Removing carpenter bees from your property requires a combination of inspection, removal, exclusion, and prevention strategies. 

Follow this comprehensive step-by-step guide to effectively manage and prevent carpenter bee infestations:

1. Inspect for Damage and Bee Activity

Carefully examine the exterior of your home for holes that are about 1/2 inch in diameter, which are entry points for carpenter bees. 

Look for sawdust and bee feces near wooden structures, which indicate active infestations.

Pro Tip: Use a flashlight to inspect darker areas and binoculars to check higher sections of your home without using a ladder for a safer initial inspection.

2. Identify Active Tunnels

damage carpenter bees cause

To identify active carpenter bee tunnels, look for fresh, yellowish sawdust beneath the entrance hole.

 Additionally, you may notice live bees entering or exiting these holes, which indicates that the gallery is being used for nesting.

Pro Tip: Look for carpenter bee activity during the early morning or late afternoon, when the bees are most active. Additionally, consider placing a small amount of dark, non-toxic paint or chalk near the entrance, which can help you track bee activity.

3. Apply Your Pesticide of Choice

For carpenter bees, most pest management professionals recommend using insecticidal dust or aerosol treatments designed to kill wasps and other bees. 

These products should be applied directly to the gallery entrances. 

The holes in the galleries should then be plugged securely with a piece of wood dowel coated with carpenter’s glue. In most cases, you won’t need to drill or treat the infested wood.

Pro Tip: For the best results, apply the pesticide late in the evening when bees are less active, ensuring maximum exposure. Do NOT seal the holes with caulk or other soft materials since any surviving bees can easily penetrate those barriers. 

4. Paint or Stain Wood Surfaces

Make sure the wood is clean and dry; then apply a primer designed for exterior use, followed by a coat of paint or stain. 

For paint, choose high-quality exterior latex paint, as its thickness provides a solid barrier. If you prefer staining, select an oil-based stain that penetrates deep into the wood, offering long-lasting protection.

Pro Tip: For optimal protection against carpenter bees, add a layer of polyurethane over the paint or stain. This enhances the durability of the wood surface while also creating a slick barrier that bees find difficult to latch onto and bore into.

5. Add Protective Barriers

To deter carpenter bees from invading vents, eaves, and other susceptible areas of your home, consider installing protective barriers such as screens and fine mesh. 

These materials keep the bees from accessing and nesting in these vulnerable areas and can help you stop infestations before they start. 

Pro Tip: For best results, choose a mesh with holes no larger than ⅛ inches. This keeps bees out but ensures proper airflow in your eaves and vents. 

How Pest Control Experts Remove Carpenter Bees

carpenter bees control

If you’re dealing with a significant carpenter bee infestation or your DIY methods have failed to yield results, it may be time to call in pest professionals.

Once the professionals arrive, here are the steps they’ll take to get rid of the bees:

1. Inspection

A thorough examination of your property to identify the extent of the infestation and locate all nests. 

During this step, the pros will also confirm that the pests present are indeed carpenter bees rather than some other pest species.

2. Treatment Plan

Next, the team will develop a customized treatment strategy, which may involve the use of professional-grade insecticides, baits, or physical removal techniques.

3. Application

Once the team has devised a treatment plan, they’ll apply their pesticide of choice directly into carpenter bee holes and potential entry points to maximize efficacy.

4. Follow-up Treatments

To prevent carpenter bees from returning, the team will arrange follow-up visits to ensure the infestation is completely eradicated and address any subsequent concerns.

How to Keep Carpenter Bees Away

carpenter bees​

Maintaining a bee-free home, especially when dealing with carpenter bees, requires a multifaceted approach. Here’s how you can keep these wood-boring insects at bay:

  • Use Hardwoods: Carpenter bees prefer softer woods for nesting. Opting for hardwoods in your home’s construction and outdoor features can deter them. Hardwoods are more challenging for bees to bore into, making your structures less inviting.
  • Secure Gaps and Cracks: Sealing gaps, cracks, and crevices in your home’s exterior can prevent carpenter bees from finding entry points. Use wood putty and wire mesh screens (or steel wool) to fill these openings.
  • Install Bee Traps: Carpenter bee traps trap and kill carpenter bees. Placing these traps around your property can significantly reduce the bee population by capturing foraging bees before they establish new nests.
  • Maintain a Clean Yard: Remove dead wood and fallen branches to eliminate potential nesting sites. A tidy yard offers fewer attractions for carpenter bees, reducing the likelihood of them setting up residence.

Implementing these strategies can significantly reduce carpenter bee activity around your property while keeping your wooden structures safe from annoying and expensive carpenter bee damage. 

Find a Local Pest Control Expert in Your Area! Pest Dude can Help!

Are you sick of sharing space with carpenter bees? It may be time to contact an expert pest management company. 

Here at Pest Dude, we work with a huge network of pest control experts around the country. 

Contact us at (844) 532-0076, and we’ll connect you with a pest pro near you. 

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Carpenter Bee Control FAQs

Carpenter bees are large, solitary bees, easily recognizable by their shiny, black abdomen and the robust, fuzzy appearance of their upper body, which can be black, yellow, or even orange, depending on the species.

Unlike honey bees or bumblebees, carpenter bees are not social insects and typically live alone. 

Their behavior is unique in that they burrow into wood to lay their eggs, creating round, smooth holes about a half-inch in diameter. 

These bees prefer untreated, weathered wood for their nesting, often returning to the same sites year after year to expand their tunnels.

Although they may seem aggressive, especially when males hover near humans, male carpenter bees don’t actually have stingers. Females do have stingers, but they’re unlikely to sting unless you attempt to handle or attack them directly. 

While not inherently dangerous, carpenter bees can be problematic due to the structural damage they inflict over time through their nesting habits. 

What attracts carpenter bees to my house?

Carpenter bees are primarily attracted to houses that offer suitable nesting sites. They prefer bare, unpainted, or weathered wooden surfaces, particularly those made of softwood, such as pine, cedar, redwood, and cypress

The bees are not feeding on the wood; instead, they are seeking places to create nests. 

Factors that increase the likelihood of attracting carpenter bees include the following: 

  • Exposed wood that is not treated or sealed
  • Structures that have existing holes or damage (which can provide an easy starting point for their burrowing)
  • The presence of wooden decks, eaves, siding, and outdoor furniture. 

Reducing these attractants by painting or sealing wood surfaces, repairing damaged areas, and using hardwoods can help deter carpenter bees from targeting your home.

Signs of a carpenter bee infestation include noticeable round holes (about a half-inch in diameter) on the surface of the wood where the bees have established their nests. The most common nest sites include siding, eaves, wooden shakes, porch ceilings, window sills, and doors. In some cases, carpenter bees will also nest in telephone poles, fence railings, fence posts, or wooden lawn furniture. 

Because carpenter bees create tunnels that can extend several feet into the wood, and because they divide their tunnels into cells where they lay eggs and rear larvae, they can cause extensive damage to wood. 

In addition to the holes, another sign is the presence of sawdust beneath entry points, which results from the bees’ nesting behavior. 

You may also notice yellowish stains around the holes or on surfaces below the nests caused by the bees’ waste.

Over time, the structural integrity of the wood can be compromised, with repeated nesting cycles causing increased damage.

The visible damage, coupled with the weakening of wooden structures, highlights the need for prompt attention to a carpenter bee infestation.

Carpenter bees and bumblebees are often confused due to their similar size and coloring, but there are several distinctive characteristics that set them apart:

  • Carpenter bees have a shiny, smooth abdomen with minimal to no hair, whereas bumblebees boast a fuzzy appearance, covered in fine hairs with visible yellow and black stripes. Some other species can be black, green, or even purple, with whitish, yellowish, or reddish hair. 
  • Carpenter bees are solitary creatures that burrow into wood to lay their eggs, creating tunnels to house their larvae. In contrast, bumblebees live in social colonies, often nesting in the ground or in dense grass clumps without causing damage to wooden structures. 
  • Carpenter bees can be seen hovering near the surfaces of wood structures and are known to be less aggressive unless provoked, while bumblebees are more focused on foraging for nectar and pollen from flowers. 

Understanding these differences is crucial in identifying and appropriately addressing the presence of these bees in or around your home.

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Author Bio: Zachary Smith

Zachary Smith is the founder of PestDude.com. Zachary is a licensed pest control professional with 20+ years of hands on experience eradicating pests from homes and businesses. Zachary earned his Bachelor of Science from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 2002. He specializes in rodent and insect infestation management of structures and landscapes. His passion is to share his extensive knowledge with the world.

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