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 until they are removed.
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.