Are you seeing insects or bees around the eaves of your home? If you answered yes, then you might be dealing with a carpenter bee infestation. You may be wondering why bees are not much of an issue, unlike cicada killer wasps. But carpenter bees, just like their name, are a little different. They may bring some real problems for you and your home.

So, what is very concerning about carpenter bees, and how do we control or treat them? Let us find out.

What Are Carpenter Bees?

The name carpenter bee comes from their nesting behavior. These bees like to burrow and nest in wood. People also call them "wood bees".

Carpenter bees are usually seen flying around the wooden structures of the house. They may nest in the eaves, wood shingles, shakes, siding, garden pergolas, benches, patios, and other unfinished wood surfaces.


A Carpenter bee nesting on a flower

How To Keep Carpenter Bees Away

Carpenter bees are often confused with bumblebees. The confusion is due to similarities in appearance. However, both bees are very different. Carpenter bees are about 1 inch long. They can be solid black or yellow and black in appearance. The major difference with a bumblebee is the hairless shiny black abdomen. Even so, fuzzy bumble bees are all over.

The majority of carpenter bee species are solitary. However, you may see a couple of females nesting close to each other. The female bee drills a hole in the wood surfaces and lays eggs in them. Then it brings food for the larva and seals the holes. The entrance to their burrow is a perfectly round hole about the size of your finger.

The life cycle of a Carpenter bee

Carpenter bees are most active in the spring season. They mate in early spring and build nests.  Then the females lay eggs, collect food for the larvae, and eventually die. By late summer, the larva develops into an adult.

Unlike social bees, only one generation of bees lives in the nest. They have very little activity in late summer. After that, the bees return to the nests. You will see them getting active again the following spring. This cycle repeats itself the next season.

 Signs of Carpenter Bee Infestation

The most visible sign of carpenter bee infestation is the round holes in the wood around patios, pergolas, eaves, and other vulnerable areas. Another sign is sawdust piles on the ground. You may also observe excrement stains on the wood below the carpenter bee holes.

Some of the other signs are:

  • A yellow substance just inside the entrance of the gallery.
  • Flight activities in the area.

Investigate the wooden surfaces for holes with yellow marks at the entrance in the early spring season. If you take proper measures when the bees just start getting active, you may be able to prevent the carpenter bees from attacking your wooden surfaces.

Should I Be Worried About Carpenter Bees?

The very short answer is "YES". Carpenter bees are counted among the primary wood-damaging insects in the United States. The natural habitat of this insect is soft old trees. However, they will not hesitate to choose the exposed wood structures of your home and garage.

After creating about a 1-inch deep hole into the wood, carpenter bees start boring perpendicular tunnels for nesting chambers. These tunnels are generally 4 to 6 inches long. An average female bee creates six to eight chambers where it lays eggs.

As carpenter bees nest in your wood structures, they damage the material creating holes for nesting. An infestation by several bees can cause major damage to your wood.

A damaged wood with several holes

If you do not plug the existing holes, carpenter bees will return to their nest every season. This way, carpenter bee galleries may expand up to 10 feet in length over the years. It is necessary to plug the existing carpenter bee holes to discourage them from returning. Consult professional pest control services to treat your carpenters' bee problem permanently.

Do Carpenter Bees Eat Wood?

Many people think carpenter bees eat wood as they bore holes into it.  It is a misconception among the general public due to their nesting behavior. To your knowledge, the bees do not eat wood. They feed on flower nectar, and the larva feeds on bee bread. The only purpose of building tunnels into wooden structures is to construct nests.

If you do not plug the existing holes, the bees will return to their nest the next season. This way, carpenter bee galleries may expand up to 10 feet in length over the years. It is necessary to plug the existing carpenter bee holes to discourage them from returning. Consult professional pest control services to treat your carpenter bee problem permanently.

Carpenter Bee Galleries

Female carpenter bees use the galleries to lay eggs. A gallery has an entrance hole on the wood surface that continues for a short distance. The tunnel then turns upward and runs in the direction of the wood. The female bee provides a pollen ball into it and lays an egg on it. She closes the galleries with the help of wood pulp. Each gallery has a series of cells in it.

Do carpenter bees sting or bite you?

Like other bee species, female carpenter bees carry a stinger that can sting you. Male bees are generally seen guarding the nest, and they do not have a stinger. If a carpenter bee flies toward you darting, buzzing aggressively, it is a male bee in most cases.

Carpenter bee stingers contain bee venom. If a bee stings you, you will feel pain or a burning sensation locally. Female carpenter bees can sting more than once as they do not leave the stinger on your skin.

You may follow the following steps to treat a sting at home:

  • Clean the area to prevent infection. You may rinse the skin with soap and lukewarm water.
  • Use a cold washcloth or cold wash gel to minimize the inflammation

A portion of the skin stung by a bee is washed with a soap

If you are allergic to bee venom and got stung several times, seeking medical help is advised. The bees get active in spring and summer. You should take precautions to prevent carpenter bees from attacking you.

Are carpenter bees good for anything?

Like other bees, such as honey bees and bumblebees, carpenter bees also play a role in pollination. They collect pollen and nectar to feed the larvae in the nest. In this process, the bees pollinate plants and are considered key pollinators.

How do you protect the wood from carpenter bees?

Prevention is always better than cure. Do not allow carpenter bees to nest in and around your home in the first place. Use preventive measures such as paint, varnish, residual insecticide sprays, insecticide dust, and more to make your wooden surfaces less attractive for these flying insects.

  • Carpenter bees prefer unpainted, weathered wood to bore holes. Wood stains and seals offer some protection.
  • A fresh coat of paint will discourage a carpenter Bee from nesting in the wood. Varnish or paint your wooden surfaces to make them less attractive to carpenter bees.
  • Reduce and limit the damage by carpenter bees by lessening the number of exposed and unfinished wood. If not all, seal the majority of your exterior opening.
  • Woods with cracks are the better option for carpenter bees as it protects their entrances. Seal and caulk the cracks and crevices.
  • If you have had carpenter bee infestations earlier, the probability is, you will have it again and again as carpenter bees reuse holes from the previous season. Plug their previous season holes to stop them from returning to the same area.
  • Apply insecticide dust for a long-term solution for a carpenter bee infestation. You may apply the dust deep into the holes to kill any present bee.
  • The prevention measures work best when practiced before the nesting activity starts. In case you didn't have the opportunity to paint or varnish the unfinished wood, use a residual spray to prevent carpenter bee infestations. Retreat the spray till the fall season. Residual insecticides easily last about 2-3 months.

Carpenter bees can severely damage the wood in your house. The repair and replacement of the damaged wood can be a big problem if you do not treat the infestation at an early stage. Call a pest control professional to have a long-term treatment for carpenter bee infestations.

What can you put on wood to keep carpenter bees away?

Plug the previous season nests and get equipped with carpenter bee sprays and insecticides in early spring to prevent carpenter bee infestations. Spray it on previous carpenter bee holes and around the wood and treat it regularly throughout the summer.

Insecticide dust is another method to get rid of insects. Insecticide dust is a long-term solution for carpenter bee infestations. Use a hand duster and spray the dust deep into the hole.

Wear protective gear while dealing with carpenter bee insecticides.  Gloves, eyewear, dust mask, and other safety gear are essential while handling chemical pesticides.

A pair of gloves, mask, and eyewear as protection gears from bees

What kind of spray will kill carpenter bees?

There are several ways to kill carpenter bees. Some sprays kill them instantly, while others kill slowly. A spray solution of three parts of water and one part of boric acid will kill the carpenter bee in about one hour. You may spray the solution directly into the carpenter bee holes.

Another killing agent is diatomaceous earth. It is a nontoxic pesticide that kills bees on contact relatively faster.

Use residual insecticide sprays in areas where these insects are observed more frequently for an effective solution. Insecticide dust is another effective solution to treat bees.

Will vinegar keep carpenter bees away?

If you are looking for a pesticide alternative, vinegar is the solution waiting for you in the kitchen. Select a strong vinegar for an effective solution to get rid of the carpenter bee infestation.

Mix vinegar with water and put it in a spray bottle. Spray the mixture directly into the hole. The solution will kill the bees instantly in contact. This method will also kill the carpet bee larvae. Treat the woods frequently for better results.

How do you get rid of carpenter bees naturally?

There are many solutions to get rid of carpenter bees naturally. Citrus oil, vinegar, traps, etc., are homemade solutions to keep the insect away. Even loud music can help you in getting rid of the insect.

Natural solutions are safer for your pets and children and the environment at large. Below are some of the natural solutions to treat carpenter bee infestation.

Spray citrus oil or scent on carpenter bees

You may use citrus fruits such as lemon, oranges, grapefruit, or lime to prevent carpenter bee infestations. Squeeze the fruit to collect the juice, or use peels of the fruit and put it in a water pot and let it boil. Spray the citrus solution, your homemade insecticide, all over the infested area and other wood structures. The carpenter bee cannot withstand the fragrance.

A bottle of spray citrus oil scent to keep carpenter bees away

Oiling the bees

Some oils repel the carpenter bees. Take some tea tree oil, lavender oil, citronella oil, and jojoba oil and mix them in a bowl. Spritz the whole area around your home. This organic spray causes no harm to your pets and children. This method easily keeps the carpenter bees away from your property.

Almond oil contains Benzaldehyde which acts as a repellent to carpenter bees. You may pour it into carpenter bee holes. The oil will deter the larvae and bees, and it works for about 3 to 4 months.

If you have access to only tea tree oil, take 8 ounces of water and put 1 tablespoon of tea tree oil into it. Your spray solution is ready for use. Pour it into a spray bottle and apply it to the tunnels to get rid of carpenter bees.

Another oiling solution is eucalyptus oil. You may put 20-30 drops of the oil into 1 ounce of water. Put the mixture into a spray bottle and shake well before use. Spray it in the tunnels, and the bees should escape.

Seal the tunnels

Soak some steel wire with vinegar. Trim the steel wool as per the size of the carpenter bee holes. Block the existing hole with steel wool. In this method, vinegar acts as a deterrent and the steel wool will not allow the bee to the entire inside.

Brew garlic, oil, and vinegar

Put a few cloves of garlic in a bowl of cooking oil for a few days. Then add some white vinegar to the bowl. Spray the solution in and around the tunnels. Keep applying it until the bees have left the place.

Applying garlic powder is a more effective solution to get rid of carpenter bees. You may apply it directly into the carpenter bee holes.

Other solutions

Mix a combination of 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar, one tablespoon of pure rubbing alcohol, 5 to 6 drops of lavender oil, and 6 drops of tea tree oil. Each of the ingredients work differently to help you in getting rid of carpenter bees. You may spray the mixture directly on the bees and also into the holes to get rid of the insect.

You may use a vacuum cleaner to suck the bees from the holes. Use a vacuum nozzle that fits the tunnel hole properly. After sucking the bees into the vacuum cleaner, fill and repair the carpenter bee holes to prevent carpenter bee infestation in the future.

A vacuum cleaner to suck the bees from holes

Another solution to deal with carpenter bees is using a trap. A carpenter bee trap is a pre-drilled wood block attached to a plastic bottle or glass jar.  The jar traps the bee. It is a simple, effective solution that makes your job easy. You can make a D-I-Y trap or buy some commercially available carpenter bee traps.

The operation of a carpenter bee trap is very simple. The bees crawl into the drilled holes. Once a bee gets inside, it cannot find the entrance holes.

A light source indicates an escape path for the bee. It considers the light coming from the bottom of the box and follows the path. The bee passes into the glass jar through the hole and cannot escape.

Loud music, noise, and vibrations are not liked by carpenter bees. Wind chimes and wind-noise devices can be very helpful in preventing carpenter bees from drilling holes.

Carpenter bees often return to their previous season nests. Plug or seal the existing holes to discourage the bees from returning your property over and over again.

How do I get rid of carpenter bees permanently?

Though homemade remedies can help you to get rid of carpenter bees to a measurable extent, there is always a probability of re-infestation. Therefore, getting rid of the carpenter bee infestation permanently can be a big challenge. In such a situation, seeking professional help in getting rid of the carpenter bee problem is a wiser decision.

Contact A.N.T. PEST CONTROL NEW LENOX to get a free quote for pest control services. Our expert will eradicate the bees and will protect your woods from future infestations.

We provide pest control services for a variety of pests and nuisances, including bees, wasps, ants, spiders, carpet beetles, and more. Leave the job to the professionals and sit back to relax. A house without pests is a home with peace.

Contact Us

1200 S Cedar Rd #2D/E
New Lenox, IL 60451


Email Us

to top