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Carpenter Bees

What's the best way to protect wood from carpenter bee damage? Homemade carpenter bee traps are often used for pest control. But this won't stop bees from doing any more damage to your wooden structures! Just as importantly, are carpenter bees actually that bad?

How Much Damage Do Carpenter Bees Cause?

Female Carpenter Bees look for places to start a nest in wood. They prefer places where rain can't reach, like the underside or backside of surfaces. They bore 1/2" holes & tunnel through the wood. At times, this might include the wood of your home! They do not eat the wood like termites do. Most damage is superficial, primarily in surface wood. However, large carpenter bees (Xylocopa) might become economic pests when nesting in structural timbers, wooden water tanks, fence posts, etc.

Video: Carpenter Bees: Stop Damage Without Traps!

How to get rid of carpenter bees without killing them!

Do Carpenter Bees Sting?

Carpenter bees may seem scary but they're mostly harmless. The males tend to be more aggressive when protecting their nest. But only the females can sting, as the males have no stinger. Females have an all black head while the male carpenter bees have a white patch on their face. Carpenter bees are generally mellow, friendly bees. You can approach within just a few inches away and they will not pay any heed.

Identification: Carpenter Bees vs Bumble Bees

Carpenter bees are large, fat bees that hover around our gardens & homes thru the growing season. They're easy to confuse with bumble bees as both may have similar black & yellow markings. One easy way to identify each is by the abdomen. Carpenter Bees have smooth, shiny abdomens. Bumble Bees are harry and may have more yellow. Bumble Bees nest in the ground. But carpenter bees are the ones found drilling holes and nesting in wood.

Carpenter Bees vs Bumble Bees Identification Guide.jpg
There's one sure way to tell the difference between carpenter bees & bumble bees.

Do Carpenter Bees Pollinate?

Despite what some pest control services might say, carpenter bees are excellent pollinators! They are native to many areas which should appeal to conservationists. And they're good for our gardens. They work extremely well at pollinating passion fruit flowers. Every year my vines yield huge masses of fruit, all thanks to carpenter bees!

Carpenter Bee Control:

Getting rid of carpenter bees can be very difficult. Often people trap and kill them, but this won't stop them from coming back. Pesticides are certainly not the best way, especially for organic gardeners. A proven method on how to get rid of carpenter bees and keep them from returning requires protective coatings on wooden surfaces.

Carpenter bees generally avoid treated deck lumber. But as the wood ages that won't be enough to deter them. At a bare minimum you need to apply thick coatings of paint to wood, including the underside of surfaces. When possible, applying a protective wrap of aluminum trim coil will give optimal protection. That's the best way to prevent carpenter bees from infesting your house.

Cohabitation Via Devoted Habitat!

Don't view this purely as a DIY pest control project. View it as a relocation program. Provide carpenter bees with alternate habitat. You can make or buy houses for them and see if they will adopt them. A bee hotel may give the bees an easy place to inhabit, reducing their interest in your home. In this way, they won't damage your valuable property, but they'll still hang around the garden, rendering crucial pollination services!

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