Carpenter Bees

Discover everything you need to know about carpenter bees in our guide below.

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What Are Carpenter Bees?

Carpenter bees (scientific name Xylocopa) are large, solitary bees that get their name from the fact that they burrow into wood to create nests. Unlike their honeybee relatives, carpenter bees do not live in hives or produce honey. 

Carpenter bees are often mistaken for pests, but they play an essential role in the ecosystem. In fact, these bees are effective pollinators who help encourage biodiversity. 

While their nesting habits might pose challenges for homeowners, preventive measures and proper maintenance of wood surfaces can reduce the likelihood of damage without harming the bees. 

The Behavior, Diet, and Habits of Carpenter Bees

Carpenter bees vary in size from about 0.5” to 1”. They have large, black, shiny bodies and are often mistaken for bumblebees. 

Male carpenter bees are known for being territorial and may hover in front of humans who venture too close to their nests, although they lack stingers and are harmless. Female carpenter bees can sting, although they rarely do unless they’re directly provoked. 

The diet of carpenter bees consists mainly of nectar and pollen from flowers. They are especially drawn to brightly colored, sweet-smelling flowers like lavender, salvia, snapdragons, and wisteria. 

Unlike other bee species, which collect and store pollen to feed their young, carpenter bees do not, instead, they feed their larval cells with a mixture of nectar and pollen before they lay their eggs.

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damage carpenter bees cause

What Damage Do Carpenter Bees Cause?

While not typically harmful to humans, Carpenter bees can damage wooden structures. These bees are known for burrowing into wood to create their nests, which can lead to aesthetic and structural damage over time. 

Carpenter bees prefer to build their nests in untreated, exposed wood. They often target eaves, decks, and outdoor furniture. While the exterior holes they drill are relatively small, the tunnels they create inside the wood can be extensive. 

Eventually, this tunneling can weaken the structural integrity of wood and lead to expensive repairs or replacement. 

How to Get Rid of Carpenter Bees

The first step in getting rid of carpenter bees is to discourage them from nesting in or around your property. One of the most effective ways to do this is to apply a coat of paint or varnish to exposed wood surfaces, as these bees prefer untreated wood for their nesting sites. 

If you’ve located vacant carpenter bee nests, you can plug them with steel wool to prevent subsequent infestations. 

As a last resort, you can also use insecticidal sprays or powders designed explicitly for treating carpenter bee nests. That said, it’s important to remember that carpenter bees are an essential part of the ecosystem, and we recommend using non-chemical approaches whenever possible. 

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The most noticeable sign of a carpenter bee infestation is the presence of round, smooth holes that they drill into wood to create their nests. These holes are typically about a half-inch in diameter. You may also notice sawdust beneath these holes and spot live bees hovering around the area.

To prevent carpenter bees, wooden surfaces should be treated or painted because they prefer bare, untreated wood. Sealing cracks and crevices in wood structures can also deter them from nesting. Additionally, using vinyl or aluminum siding for buildings is a good preventive measure.

Effective methods to eliminate carpenter bees include using insecticidal dust in their holes and then sealing them up, employing bee traps around the property, or applying residual insecticide to wood surfaces. If the infestation is severe, we recommend consulting a professional pest control service for assistance.

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