Has this ever happened to you: you’re out on your back deck enjoying a refreshing glass of iced tea when a fat bee emerges from a hole in your woodwork and buzzes away?
Carpenter bees are a common household nuisance. These docile insects are virtually harmless to humans, but can cause serious damage to wooden structures.
Unlike termites, which actually consume wood, carpenter bees simply burrow into wood to build their nests. They also use the wood shavings left over from their excavation to build partitions in their nests.
It’s easy to recognize carpenter bees. They’re about the same size and shape as bumble bees, but while bumble bees’ bodies are covered in bright yellow hairs, carpenter bees’ bodies are slick, black, and shiny.
Carpenter bees are most active during the late-spring and early summer, when they’re searching for mates and nesting sites. Their preferred habitat is in softwoods such as redwood, cedar, cypress, and pine. In addition to trees, favored nesting sites include eaves, facia, window trim, clapboard siding, decks, and patio furniture.
Once they’ve found a favorable site, carpenter bees tunnel into the wood to lay their eggs. Their entry holes are easily identifiable because they are perfectly round and about a half an inch in diameter. Often, fresh sawdust can be seen near their entrances.
Male carpenter bees can be intimidating, sometimes even swarming people that get too close to their nests. Because they don’t have stingers, though, they’re completely harmless. Females do possess stingers, but are very reluctant to use them except when in direct danger.
Controlling Carpenter Bees
While carpenter bees are capable of causing extensive property damage if left unchecked, there are some simple strategies for repelling them.