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How To Control Carpenter Bees

While there are some bees that are beneficial to the ecosystem and are discouraged from being controlled on a property, there are other bees which are just the opposite and are destructive pests. This is certainly the case with the Carpenter Bee. This nuisance pest is unwelcome in homes and if left untreated can be damaging especially to wood elements of your home. There are over 500 different species of Carpenter Bees and unlike other types of bees like the honey bee and bumble bee, the carpenter bee is a solitary creature and prefers to be left alone rather than coexist in large colonies. They are called “carpenter bees” because of their tendency build their nest in some type of wood.

Carpenter bees are perhaps the most troublesome of the bees because of the damage they can cause to wood. Often confused with bumble bees, they are roughly the same size and color but are not as fuzzy. Female Carpenter Bees can drill into wood and lay eggs. The holes they create in homes can be a problem which can lead to other insects using the holes to gain access into your home. 

If you have a carpenter bee problem on your property, worry no more. Solutions Pest & Lawn knows just how to get rid of this pest and can help you to eliminate them yourself by offering helpful how-to guidance as well as the best in carpenter bee control products. Check out our carpenter bee control products below. If you have any questions or would like more information, contact us via phone, online live chat or email and we will respond to you as soon as possible.

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How To Get Rid of Carpenter Bees: 4 Step Processcarpenter bee on wood

Step 1: Identification - Before proceeding with a control program it is important to be absolutely sure that what you are dealing with is, in fact, a carpenter bee. Very often we have customers confuse bumble bees with carpenter bees because of their similar appearance. Bumble bees and carpenter bees are about the same size (3/4 inch) and are colored yellow and black. The main difference is that bumble bees have hairy bodies while carpenter bee bodies are hairless and shiny. If you are not sure what type of bee you have, you can try to take a picture of the bee and send it our way at identification@solutionsstores.com.  We have licensed entomologists on hand who can ID the bee for you and can also give you recommendations for control. Below are some general steps we suggest to eliminate carpenter bees.


Step 2: Inspection - To begin, we suggest performing a detailed inspection of your property for areas where you suspect carpenter bee activity. Carpenter bees are most active in the spring and fall season and they can give off signs of their presence fairly easily with their conspicuous damage of drilling holes into wooden elements, usually around the exterior of the home. Keep an eye out for holes made in wood siding, railings, fencing and other wooden elements. Other signs include yellow fecal stains on wood and sawdust (frass)


Step 3: Control - Using one of our suggested pesticide sprays, such as Fipronil Foaming Aerosol it is recommended that you begin spraying areas where carpenter bees have drilled their holes and made galleries. Follow the usage rates listed on the pesticide labels and spray any area susceptible to infestations like eaves, railings, posts etc. We recommend spraying one time a month as needed during the active carpenter bee season. Another option includes using a residual insecticide dust and dusting all new openings. We carry a variety of dusts and dusters that can make application convenient. Once the galleries have been treated, use wood putty to seal up the holes to prevent reinfestation. There is a possibility that you can be stung by carpenter bees during treatment so we recommend exercising the proper precautions to ensure the highest amount of safety. This includes wearing long sleeve clothing, gloves, goggles and other protective equipment like bee suits.


Step 4: Prevention - Once the infested wood has been treated, we recommend carrying out some preventative measures. Using a insecticide concentrate such as Dominion 2L, mix the concentrate in a sprayer and then spray the perimeter of the area. Apply to the wood and spray to the point that the wood is wet. For best results, this preventative application should be done at least two or three times during the peak carpenter bee season in early Spring into the early part of summer. 


Learn More About Carpenter Bees

In the later part of spring and early parts of summer, many homeowners are startled to see a larger than normal, black colored bees flying around outside of their homes.

Aside from being surprising to look at because of their size, carpenter bees can be problematic do to their defining habit of drilling holes into wood, especially wood that makes up the structure of a home.

While carpenter bees aren’t a very common problem for most homeowners, for others, depending on the areas where they live, they can be a major issue that is dealt with by residents year after year because of the carpenter bee’s persistence.

For homeowners who live in a log home or spend time in a cabin, carpenter bees are an insect they are quite familiar with.  In fact, carpenter bees get their name because of their precision and efficiency in drilling holes and boring through wood like a carpenter putting in work. Just looking at a hole bored by these bees, you can see first-hand how they operate, drilling perfect half-inch holes into the wood.

While carpenter bees can inflict damage upon any home that is made from from wood, these wood boring pests especially like to infest log homes and structures. Carpenter bees particularly enjoy wood that is unpainted and weathered soft woods such as redwood, pine and cedar.

Homeowners who have experienced carpenter bee issues are also known to complain of the carpenter bees incessant noise they make when they are drilling. It can be such a racket that homeowners have called us and described it as sounding as if someone is vandalizing their home.

With log homes being a prime target, people may feel that more urban areas will have less of an issue with carpenter bees. Unfortunately, carpenter bees are becoming far more common and adaptable to different areas and based on exterminator reports and pest control calls, they are becoming a growing problem no matter what part of the country you are in.

Very few people know anything much more about carpenter bees than the fact that they really love to drill into wood. In fact, most people find themselves intimidated by carpenter bees they encounter due to their large size and their similar appearance to that of bumble bees. (Note: To tell the difference between bumblebees and carpenter bees is that bumble bees have thick yellow hair on the abdomen while the tail end of a carpenter bee is black and shiny.)

What may surprise you though is that carpenter bees are practically harmless to people. Male carpenter bees don’t even have a stinger and female carpenter bees are not aggressive. Carpenter bee infestations can be controlled by knowing the biology and tendencies of carpenter bees and how they operate.

See also Wasps And Bees Control Tips and Tricks

Carpenter Bee Habits and Behaviorholes made by carpenter bees

Carpenter bees are found all over the United States. They nest in a variety of settings but the carpenter bees which are found in the western part of the country prefer to nest in oak, eucalyptus, and redwood. Eastern carpenter bee species will target pine, redwood, fir, and cedar.

Carpenter bee stings rarely happen if ever. When threatened, the male carpenter bee will hover and look defensive but its mostly just for show as they do not possess a stinger to attack.

Female carpenter bees on the other hand, are so impressive with their precision and reuse of material that they should be teaching carpentry classes. Starting their active work around April and May, female carpenter bees utilize their strong mouthparts to bore holes into the surface of wood. Once they finish making an entrance, the females make a sharp 90-degree turn and start tunneling. These tunnels can range anywhere between 1 foot to 4 feet until the females have completed carving out an adequate nest.

The nest of a carpenter bee consists of a series of small cells with walls made of chewed wood pulp in between. A female carpenter been tends to develop six to 10 cells in a row along the main tunnel. At the end of this digged out gallery of cells she will leave a mixture of nectar and pollen which she regurgitates to feed her larvae. After completing this mighty task, the female will die. The regurgitated food is enough to keep the larvae sufficiently fed through the development cycle, which lasts about seven weeks.

Later in the summer, typically around August, the next generation of adult carpenter bees will emerge from the nest, only to return for hibernation through the winter. Once spring arrives, the new generation of carpenter bees restarts their life cycle. The females will recycle the old nests, with some modifications, for their own larvae, sometimes for years at a time.

Tunnel entrances can be spotted quite easily with the appearance of fresh sawdust accompanied by drips of pollen and waste. As mentioned earlier, carpenter bees drilling into wood can be audibly heard as the females work on their nests and tunnels. Male carpenter bees don’t do any nest building and instead are relegated to the task of guarding the nests even though funnily enough, they don’t have stingers.

See also How To Get Rid Of Wood Boring Bees

carpenter bee foamingCarpenter Bee Prevention

Carpenter bees can do quite a number on the wooded areas of your home and property. With that being said, owners of log homes must be extra-vigilant in preventing carpenter bee infestation from getting out of hand.

There is no universal method to prevent carpenter bees, but there are some things you can do, environmental modification, which can make carpenter bees less likely to target the wood on your property. One was is to coat your wood before the bees pinpoint it and target it because the next generations will return year after year to the wood location once the wood has been penetrated and a tunnel has been made.

While wood stains will not keep carpenter bees away, any exterior finishes with oil or polyurethane bases will help. Start early as soon as spring arrives and spraying the exterior of your log home with an insecticide to serve as a protective barrier. We do want to warn you that this can by quite time consuming to do the DIY way if you have a lot of wood to treat.

If you do decide to take the DIY route for carpenter bee prevention, look for insecticides which contain a pyrethroid. This chemical comes under a variety of different active ingredients such as bifenthrin, cyfluthrin, deltamethrin, and permethrin. You can conveniently find a variety of these products on our Solutions Pest & Lawn online store.

One of the best products we recommend using to deter carpenter bees in a a product known as Dominion 2L Insecticide. Dominion 2L is a insecticide concentrate containing the active ingredient imidacloprid. Dominion 2L can be purchased in concentrated form with each 27.5 oz. bottle making 100 gallons of solution. The price for one bottle runs around $20.

Be careful with what you purchase, though, as pesticides with stomach poisons are useless against carpenter bees because the bees don’t actually eat the wood. In addition, pesticides can degrade in a matter of weeks or months making a reapplication necessary during the summer if carpenter bees are spotted. For spot treatment, anything labeled effective against bees and wasps will also deter carpenter bees.

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Methods of Carpenter Bee Controlsealing up holes

While we covered prevention of carpenter bees, what do you do if these bees have already established themselves in your home’s wood? Well one thing you shouldn’t bother doing is killing them individually by swatting carpenter bees with tennis or racquetball rackets. This is grossly ineffective and you’re pretty much just asking for trouble.

It should be noted that female carpenter bees do have stingers and, although usually not an aggressive insect, they will attack if they feel threatened. When treating wood for carpenter bees, it is best to wait until nightfall when the bees are less active and wear some protective clothing.

Due to carpenter bee nests being an essential component for the bees survival all year round, destroying these galleries gives the best chance at extermination. This can be easier said than done when nests lie within wood. Aside from bringing in a wrecking ball and laying waste to your home, which some homeowners may consider after years of frustratingly dealing with this pest with no relief, there are a variety of options when it comes to control.

Our personal suggestion to treat carpenter bees is FiPro Foaming Aerosol. In the past, Boric acid was commonly suggested by pest control experts to deal with carpenter bee infestations. The disadvantage with boric acid, however, is length of time it takes to kill the bees. Boric acid pumped into the entrance holes, works slowly, giving the bees time to cause more damage.

Fipro Foaming Aerosol on the other hand, works quickly and kills quickly, creating a form that will suffocate and overpower carpenter bees with its lethal active ingredient of Fipronil.

Alternatively, using an insecticidal dust such as D-Fense Dust has been found to be the most effective. When using either dusts or the foaming aerosol, we recommend waiting a few days to allow the bees themselves to distribute the poison. Afterwards, plug the hole with a wood dowel coated in carpenter’s glue, caulk, or similar material.

Some homeowners have made the mistake of plugging up holes with just caulk. This is a mistake because Carpenter bees can easily cut through caulking compounds. I mean after all, they do easily drill through wood.

Another suggestion for plugging up carpenter bee entrances is copper mesh such as Stuf-fit copper mesh. What may help is dipping or spraying the mesh with insecticide before plugging up the entrance. This will cause the bee to have to chew on the copper mesh if they want to escape.

See also 5 Golden Rules of DIY Pest Control To Follow in 2018 [INFOGRAPHIC]

Natural Methods of Eliminating A Carpenter Bee Infestation

If you are the type that doesn’t like to use toxic chemicals used in pesticides to deal with carpenter bees, there are some “green” approaches to getting rid of carpenter bees. One option is to wait until winter time to plug entrance holes with wood dowels being an effective, non chemical method of control. This has shown to work because when the bees hibernate in the nests, they become trapped in spring when it’s time to emerge.

What’s strange is that carpenter bees are less inclined to bore out of wood rather than in. An alternative method which could work is implementing the use of roofing nails, Placing these nails in the entrance holes and covering them with caulk may work without needing to use chemicals.

However, this must be done in the fall after the new adults have left the nest, otherwise the bees will simply drill their way out. Taking a wire and inserting it far into the tunnels to destroy the nests is another alternative, although this requires the right timing and protective clothing to prevent stings.

In the end if you really want to get rid of carpenter bees and are sick of dealing with them, the pesticides we suggested are your best course of action. The pesticides we suggested, when used properly, are of low toxicity to humans, and if you are wearing personal protective equipment (as you should whenever conducting DIY pest control), there will be no need to worry about being harmed by the chemicals.

Additional Resources:

Carpenter Bees — Department of Entomology — Penn State University

Carpenter Bees Management Guidelines--UC IPM

Carpenter Bees - USDA Forest Service

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