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Carpenter Bees

These solitary bees live on their own inside a small tunnel in wood that they drill out for themselves.

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large black and yellow carpenter bee

Carpenter bees are a large, solitary black and yellow bee that look very similar to the bumblebee. These bees do not live in hives. They each have their own 'tunnel' that they burrow into moist wood to lay their eggs in and for the new generation to use as shelter to spend the winter in.

Bites or Stings

Damages Structures

Hazard to Health

The carpenter bee is active in the spring during their mating season, and then again in the late summer when the new generation emerges. In the fall carpenter bees seem to disappear as the new adults hide away in their tunnels for the winter. They re-appear in the spring and start the cycle over again.

Carpenter Bee Identification

Carpenter bees are large bees, black and yellow in color, and are often confused with bumble bees. In fact, one may have to get rather close to distinguish the difference. The only noticeable identifier is that the carpenter bee has a black shiny tail section.

The carpenter bee earned his name from drilling holes in wood with strong jaws. They drill a round hole about ½ inch in diameter. These are usually found on the underside of a porch rail or deck. Additional targets are cedar, cypress and redwood shingles, overhangs and other exposed wood sections on houses and porches. Carpenter bees often expose themselves by leaving small piles of course sawdust under the holes.

The adult carpenter bees usually spend the winter holed up in their tunnel until around April or May. The first carpenter bees you see will more than likely have a white spot on their face. These are the male bees. They are not equipped with a stinger and can do you no physical harm, but will seem aggressive as they are very territorial. The male will attempt to drive other bees and people away from their tunnel nests. Female carpenter bees, while equipped and capable of stinging, rarely do unless you catch them in your hand or severely agitate them.

Carpenter bees feed on nectar but can cause any significant structural damage to wood. If left unattended, they can over a period of successive years, drill enough tunnels and nests to weaken and cause decay and damage to thin boards such as siding and other exposed tunnel openings.

Dangers Associated With Carpenter Bees

Carpenter bees can sting but are not an aggressive insect.  They are destructive and will drill holes into decks and other wooden surfaces, especially untreated ones.  What's more, woodpeckers are likely to come along to feed on the carpenter bee larvae.  They can be even more destructive.  

Carpenter Bee Prevention

Prevention is not an easy task when it comes to keeping carpenter bees from nesting on your property or drilling holes in the wooden structure of your home. One helpful task is to treat or paint your porches, decks, wooden outdoor furniture and sheds. Carpenter bees seem to only like untreated or unpainted surfaces.

Another preventive tip is to search for any holes in wooden surfaces, these may have been carpenter bee nests in the past. Check and make sure no live bees are present, run a somewhat flexible wire up the hole to break through any pollen balls that may be separating various tunnels, just in case it was a nest in the past, then seal it shut with wood filler and paint over the repaired area.

Carpenter Bee Control

As with most household pests, prevention measures are not effective unless the pest has first been eradicated. This is not a simple chore for the untrained individual. ChemTec professionals are trained and able to locate all nests, treat the areas and secure your home from carpenter bee damage. Our home pest control programs includes carpenter bee control. Utilize their knowledge and experience to provide safe, effective carpenter bee treatments. For more information or to schedule an inspection, please contact us today!

Helpful Carpenter Bee Articles

How To Get Rid Of Carpenter Bees


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