Protecting Your Home from Carpenter Bees; Repelling Them, or Killing Them Naturally
If you are like me, you may be scared to death when you see carpenter bees flying around. Well, I wouldn’t really say that I am scared to death, but having been stung as a child more than my fair share, I don’t like seeing them buzzing about in the same space that I am in.
The truth is, carpenter bees very rarely sting someone. The male actually cannot sting. I don’t want to ask first, “are you a male or female”? The female only stings when provoked. I guess, tip # 1, don’t provoke her!
What carpenter bees can do is damage the soft wood of a home, and that is the problem. I have seen firsthand, they love the soft wood of decking, outdoor hand-rails, and other similar wood structures. In short order, at first they can damage the wood with their bore holes, but over years if left un-treated, they can weaken the wood, perhaps to the point of failure.
Some Carpenter Bee Facts
- Carpenter bees like to nest in the soft wood of trees, homes (decks, window seals, and similar), and other structures like pagodas.
- As stated above, the male cannot sting you, but the female can if she is provoked.
- Carpenter bees can be as long as 1 inch, but are as short as 1/4 inch. Most are similar in size to a bumble bee however.
- The abdomen, or back-end of the carpenter bee is shiny black, and most often hairless, making its body parts more distinct (scary) of those of a the common bumblebee.
- Other colors that you might see in carpenter bees are green, purplish, and of course the more common seen in our area, black.
- My personal observation is that they are really loud with their buzzing, and very menacing.
Damage Caused by Carpenter Bees
When you see carpenter bees buzzing around your home, most often decks, and other soft woods, it usually means that the bees are building their nests, tunnels, or “brood chambers”.
Those nests are where the bees bore round holes in the soft wood, then build out from there with larger tunnels (brood chambers). Over time these successive generations in the nests, can weaken the wood by the internal hollowing. There have been cases of actual failure of the wood, which can be disconcerting.
Is Your Home Infested?
If you see round holes bored into the railing of your deck, or perhaps the supports under the deck, you are most likely infested with carpenter bees. You will see the male carpenter bees flit around the nest, protecting it from predators.
You won’t be able to see the nest, since it is in the bored holes, but you may see the wood shavings on the outside of the nest, from that same boring.
Carpenter bees are most active during the warmer spring, and summer months. During colder months, and winter, the bees overwinter down in their nests, then mate in spring, and the process begins again.
If Your Home is Infested? How to Get Rid of Carpenter Bees!
OK, so you think that you may have carpenter bees at your home, now what? Well, there are several ways to remove them, or make them less of a burden.
First, you will have to locate the wood where the bees are active. That should be pretty easy, since as stated above, the male bees will often fly around the nest (bore holes), to protect it.
There are various treatments for them, many featured below. You can use a duster of insecticide, which will apply the dust up the tunnel, and coat the sides, killing the bees.
Note, if you use this method, you may want to use a pyrethrum (wasp/hornet spray), to knock down the bees flying around in flight. Please protect yourself with masks, and protective clothing if you use the puffer method, since the dust can become airborne.
Other Methods of Remove Carpenter Bees from Your Home
If you don’t feel up to the challenge of doing this yourself, or perhaps you are highly allergic, you may want to hire a professional pest company to deal with your bee problem.
Other methods are varied, and some more humane than others. Some include trapping the bees, even though most of those methods do include killing them.
You can also use some products that will protect those surfaces that the bees are attracted to, though most of those are not as effective I am told.
Of course, the most humane would be catch and release, but that method is problematic obviously, and does not address the issue of the bees boring holes, and nesting in your wood surfaces, and over time destroying those surfaces.
For more information on carpenter bees, check out the helpful information at this article at Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences.