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Carpenter Bees

Genus: Xylocopa

Actual Size: 6 – 25 mm

Characteristics: Carpenter bees are large, robust bees that look similar to bumblebees. They are often black, with splashes of yellow coloring. They also have the “fuzz” that some other bees can have.

Behavior: 

  • Carpenter bees are solitary.
  • They do not build a hive or nest, but rather live in the tunnels they dig into wood.
  • Carpenter bees prefer unfinished wood.
  • They will return, year after year, to the wood tunnels where they were born.
  • Males do not have stingers, and females have them, but will seldom use them.

 

Pest Description

Carpenter Bees and Behavior

Carpenter bees, because they look like bumblebees, can evoke a great deal of concern. However, carpenter bees males are harmless, lacking stingers entirely. Female carpenter bees do possess a stinger, but they seldom use it, unless they are handled incorrectly or provoked.

Carpenter bees do not live in hive-structure, but rather tunnel into wood in order to make their nests. These bees are generally solitary, preferring to live in their tunnels alone. The female carpenter bee begins her nest by drilling a perfectly round entrance hole into soft, unfinished wood. After the tunnel is about one inch deep, the female bee turns and begins to tunnel with the grain of the wood. Carpenter bees hibernate in nest tunnels during the winter. As the weather gets warmer in spring, adult bees emerge and mate. Only the females survive after mating, with the males dying. Female carpenter bees then construct “brood chambers.” Females put pollen and nectar into each chamber. The carpenter bees then lay an egg in each chamber, sealing after it’s placed. Eggs hatch within a few days. Five to seven weeks later, the young bees will reach adulthood and live for about another year.

Problems Caused by Carpenter Bees

Carpenter bees are an obvious nuisance for homeowners because they tunnel into porches, decks, and other wood structures. This species of bees will return to the same location where they were born, year after year. Old nests are reused, and offspring will sometimes construct new nests alongside old nests. A single nest one year, can become two or three by the following year. If carpenter bees are allowed to infest the same location year after year, the damage over several years can be significant.

Preventing Carpenter Bees

Prevention is the best way to manage carpenter bees. Always finish, varnish, or paint exterior wood surfaces to make them less attractive to bees. Protect rough areas, such as ends of timbers, with wire screening. Remember: carpenter bees prefer unfinished, soft wood. Fill any bee-caused holes with steel wool, and caulk them to prevent their reuse. Be sure and wait until after any carpenter bees have emerged before filling tunnels. Paint or varnish the repaired surfaces to prevent future tunneling.

Carpenter bees rarely cause extensive structural damage unless there is a huge infestation that wasn’t caught early on. In the case of an unmanageable carpenter bee invasion, contact a professional.

Eliminating and Controlling Carpenter Bees

Although they rarely sting, it’s always important to exercise caution with bees. A pest control professional can identify the species of bee, the best way to treat the infestation, and how to continue to eliminate the threat permanently. At Pest Control Inc, we use a variety of different treatment techniques, including surveillance, baiting, and exclusion solutions.