Carpenter bee building a nest

Carpenter bees closely resemble bumble bees, yet they lack yellow markings on their abdomens. Instead they have a smooth, black abdomen with a bright yellow thorax (the middle segment of an insect between the head and the abdomen). Bumble bees have a hairy abdomen with black and yellow stripes.

 

Carpenter Bees are known to build their nests on homes and other structures. Decks, railings, porches, eaves, doors and windowsills all make great nesting sites. Like Carpenter Ants, Carpenter Bees do not eat wood, rather they excavate holes in wood in order to make a nest to lay their eggs. Because of this, they leave behind small piles of sawdust. If you listen carefully, you can sometimes hear the tunneling sounds within the wood. Carpenter bees tend to not tunnel into painted wood. So this would be a good measure to consider if you want to prevent Carpenter Bee damage.  

 

Carpenter bees do not live in colonies like other bees.  Instead they are solitary insects, who live alone. They will over-winter in their own constructed tunnels.  In spring, when they emerge from their tunnels, you may start to notice male bees chasing one another, as they defend their territories from other males. 

 

The Male Carpenter Bee can appear very intimidating. They are known to hover in front of people who are near their nesting sites. They are completely harmless, as they lack the ability to sting. Female carpenter bees, on the other hand, can inflict a painful sting but often do not unless they are being handled or agitated by people. 

 

Important to note: Woodpeckers are fond of Carpenter Bees and their larvae.  They can add to the problem by pecking away at the wood just outside of a carpenter bee tunnel to access the bees and larvae, causing further damage to wood structures.  Using a Bird Scare Eye Balloon will help to keep woodpeckers away. Hanging shiny objects such as flash tape or The Intimidator as close to where the woodpeckers are drilling will help as visual deterrents.  

 

Take the below steps to help prevent Carpenter Bees:

  • Paint or stain decks, railings and other wooden structures around your home.
  • Consider using hardwood, carpenter bees prefer softwood as it’s easier to tunnel.
  • If you have existing holes, consider using copper mesh or caulk to fill the holes after the bees emerge in spring. 

  

As destructive as Carpenter Bees can be, we have to remember what important pollinators they are. Like bumble bees, they are a very important part of the ecosystem. As they move from flower to flower to feed on nectar, they easily pick up and transfer pollen. They pollinate flowers and can increase yield for some plant species.

 

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Hornets and Wasps

 

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