Carpenter bees are beneficial to the environment because they are excellent pollinators. Unfortunately, if they nest in or around your home, carpenter bees can cause extensive damage to softwoods such as pine and cedar. This guide will review how to get rid of carpenter bees around your property and prevent their return.
How Carpenter Bees Can Damage Wood
Carpenter bees do not feed on wood, but bore into it to create nesting “galleries” where they lay eggs in the spring and take shelter in the winter. The holes carpenter bees create may seem small on the outside, but the galleries are much bigger and more damaging than meets the eye.
A carpenter bee nest opens into a tunnel that follows a straight path for a few inches, then turns sharply 90 degrees and can extend for several feet to their chambers. Because the tunnels take so long to construct, females prefer to return to already constructed tunnels every year and enlarge them as needed. This increases the damage to the wood.
If unchecked, the damage from carpenter bees can completely destabilize all the wood in the area they have colonized. In addition, the presence of carpenter bees can attract woodpeckers who further burrow into the wood looking for larval stage bees to eat.
Tip: Male carpenters bees tend to be more active and aggressive but are incapable of stinging. Female carpenter bees sting only when provoked.
Signs of Carpenter Bee Infestation
If you’re concerned about carpenter bee infestation, check for these warning signs:
- 1/2- to 3/4-in. circular openings in wood
- Sawdust or wood shavings around or near those openings
- A yellow substance near or just inside the entrance
- Threatening flight activity around the area, which is usually males defending the territory
Carpenter Bee Pesticides
A large bee infestation might require professional intervention. However, since carpenter bees are not social insects and tend to be more solitary bees, getting rid of carpenter bees usually does not involve dealing with a large hive. Pesticides offer an effective means to eliminate the pests.
Carpenter bee sprays can be applied on and around the holes in the wood and is effective on newer intrusions. Spray insecticide more heavily in early spring to prevent infestation and then treat regularly throughout the summer.
Insecticidal dust can be applied more deeply into the wood and is ideal for longer-term infestations. It also prevents the larvae from reproducing. Use a hand duster to spray the dust directly into the hole.
Tip: Whenever using insecticidal dust or sprays, wear protective clothes, gloves, safety eyewear and a dust mask while taking all other necessary precautions.
How to Get Rid of Carpenter Bees Naturally
Carpenter bees are pollinating insects, so you may want to learn how to get rid of carpenter bees naturally. There are several non-lethal means of getting rid of them.
Carpenter bee traps are convenient to use and offer a non-toxic method of elimination. Buy or build a trap and hang it directly above the bee hole. Bees will enter the trap believing it to be a nest and be unable to escape.
Non-toxic liquids that repel bees include solutions of water with citrus oil or almond oil. Use a spray bottle to apply around the bee holes to encourage the bees to leave the nest.
Loud noises and vibrations are known to repel bees, so play loud music with the speakers next to the area of infestation for 2-3 days. In this case, you’ll want to fill the holes as soon as they’ve left.
Tip: Professional pest exterminators may be able to relocate the bees without harming them, depending on the accessibility of the nest.
How to Prevent Carpenter Bee Infestations
DIY pest control offers methods to control carpenter bees and protect your outdoor furniture, deck, wood trim, pergola and other outdoor structures. Ready to find the supplies you need in your local store for getting rid of carpenter bees? Use The Home Depot app to locate products and check inventory. We’ll take you to the exact aisle and bay.