illustration of a carpenter bee

Carpenter Bee Control: Protect Your Home

Appearance

What Do Carpenter Bees Look Like?
carpenter bee
Size: Adult carpenter bees typically range from 1/2 to 1 inch in length.

Color: Featuring a metallic sheen, the abdomen of these insects may appear blue-black, green or purple in color dependent on the sunlight’s refraction off of their hairless abdomen.

Characteristics: Unlike bumble bees, carpenter bees have very little hair on the abdomen. Additionally, adult females have stingers while males do not.

Call for service: (877) 250-3857

Facts

  • Often confused: Often mistaken for bumblebees, carpenter bees maintain a similar size and appearance as their counterparts but are solitary rather than social creatures.
  • Species: Of the seven species of carpenter bees regularly found in the United States, only one is a common household pest in our primary service area of the Mid-Atlantic region.
  • Damage: Although the insects cause minimal problems individually, years of carpenter bee activity on the same piece of wood can amount to costly damages.

Food

What Do Carpenter Bees Eat?
Though carpenter bees, as their name would suggest, are commonly found in and around wood, the insects do not actually eat the timber. Like most bee species, carpenter bees consume plant nectar and pollen.

Bumble bees on the other hand most notably pollinate:

  • Flowers
  • Eggplants
  • Tomatoes
  • Other vegetables

Biology

Colonies
Carpenter bees overwinter and give birth in tunnels excavated in exposed, dry wood.

Eggs
Mating takes place during the spring, and females then set to work cleaning out and enlarging tunnels left by earlier generations.

Once there are enough chambers to accommodate the six to eight eggs that carpenter bees typically lay, females deposit a portion of pollen and regurgitated nectar called bee bread to feed the larvae when they hatch and seal off the entrance.

Adults
After the larvae complete pupation, newly mature adults emerge in August. Eastern carpenter bees only produce one generation each year. Individual bees may live as long as three years.

Detection

  • Holes: May notice round entrance holes about 1/2 an inch in diameter in unfinished wood.
  • Flying: Look for adult male carpenter bees hovering around nests and flying aggressively at intruders.
  • Stains: The wood around entrance holes may be stained with feces.

Problems Caused by Carpenter Bees

Structural damage
In general, carpenter bees do not pose much of a problem for homes and businesses. However, generations of carpenter bees tunneling into the same wood can lead to significant structural damage.

Aesthetic damage
The pests also cause aesthetic problems by defecating onto the surface of infested wood. Furthermore, though they need to be provoked, females may sting humans if perceived as a threat.

Signs of Infestation

The most notable signs of infestation are the male carpenter bees that hover around nesting sites in the spring and summer.

While females expand the tunnels, males protect the nest by aggressively pursuing animals, other insects and humans who get too close.

Other signs of carpenter bee infestations include the entrance holes and feces stains that the pests leave on:

  • Decks
  • Telephone poles
  • Fence posts
  • Bridges
  • Doors
  • Windowsills
  • Roof eaves
  • Railings
  • Lawn furniture

Prevention Tips

Finished wood
Since carpenter bees attack unfinished and unpainted wood products, the best way to prevent the pests from becoming a problem is to ensure all wooden furniture and fixtures are varnished, finished and painted.

Inspect wooden objects
Property owners and residents should also closely inspect wooden products for signs of a carpenter bee presence before purchasing.

Tips for Removal from Home

Call an expert
The most effective form of infestation eradication is dusting the opening to the nest with insecticides.

As such, home and business owners who suspect a carpenter bee invasion should contact a pest management professional. Equipped with the appropriate gear and certifications, professional specialists can apply the targeted treatments safely and effectively.

Multiple dustings may prove necessary to eliminate all nesting bees.

Learn more about Western’s comprehensive Home Pest Control Plans.
Call for service: (877) 250-3857

Common concerns about carpenter bees

Carpenter bees are an imposing presence due to their large, shiny black bodies. You may confuse them with bumble bees, but their shiny abdomens are what make them stand out and almost seem more ominous.

Something you may be surprised to learn is that this is one of the least aggressive stinging insects you’ll encounter in the summer months.

While this pest may not pose any imminent threat unless purposefully provoked, carpenter bees can extensively damage wood if given the opportunity.

We answer some of your questions about this commonly misunderstood insect below.

Where will I find them on my property?

We recently caught up with Don Pisack, Branch Manager of Western’s Norwalk, CT office, to learn more about this popular summertime insect. Don reveals,

“I’ve recently noticed a lot more activity with carpenter bees in Connecticut. I’ve found them to mostly be located in the eaves of the home because there is a gap there. They bore holes in the wood and lay their eggs there. The good news is they may look threatening, but they won’t sting unless provoked.”

What’s the difference between the female and the male?

The male and the female carpenter bee behave very differently from one another.

The male, while very territorial over the nest, is unable to sting you. He may fly near you or in front of your face in order to stand guard, but he will not hurt you.

The female carpenter bee is the one who is able to sting, but it is unlikely that she will unless she is provoked or intimidated. The female is responsible for boring a hole into wood and then laying her eggs there.

What type of threat do carpenter bees pose to my property?
Carpenter bees, if given the opportunity, can cause extensive damage to wood through the boring of holes.

While they do not consume wood, it is possible that in heavily infested areas, they can compromise a structure’s integrity and appearance. They prefer bare, weathered wood, but they can damage painted wood as well.

Call for service: (877) 250-3857

carpenter bee image