Addressing a Carpenter Bee Problem
Your home’s job is to shield you and your family against the forces of nature. Unfortunately, certain insects view it much the same way, and some even consider your home to be a valuable source of food. These insects can cause extensive damage in the process of nesting in and feeding on you home’s wood structures, such as window frames, decks, walls, subfloors, roof beams and soffits. If these pests are ignored long enough, their activities can cause numerous other structural problems, and the damage can be extremely expensive to repair.
Insect pests that can damage your home by burrowing in or eating wood include carpenter ants, termites, powderpost beetles and carpenter bees. Out of all of these, carpenter bees can pose an particular threat because most homeowners would not suspect bees of causing such trouble. Therefore, the problem may go unnoticed for some time until the damage is severe.
Identifying Carpenter Bees
Carpenter bees are easily mistaken for bumblebees by most people, which can further lull homeowners into a false sense of security when they see these insects flying around their homes. These bees are slightly smaller than bumblebees, measuring between one-half to one inch in length. The wings are narrower and more translucent with an iridescent sheen. The upper portion of the carpenter bee’s body (thorax) may be covered in a dense yellow or black fuzz with a small bald spot in the top center, but some species possess a shiny, entirely bald thorax. The rear of the bee’s body (abdomen) is solid black, shiny and almost completely bald with the exception of sparse fuzz on the end.
Certain behavioral attributes can also be used to identify carpenter bees. The males are notoriously aggressive, more so than other territorial bee species. They will readily confront and harass people who come near their nesting sites, but because they lack a stinger, it is an empty threat. The females do possess a stinger, but they are very docile and will generally not sting unless their nest is being molested. Furthermore, whereas bumblebees dwell in small colonies, carpenter bees are solitary.
Recognizing the Signs of Carpenter Bees
Unlike bumblebees, which nest in the ground, carpenter bees nest in wood by boring holes that form tunnels known as “galleries.” The female may bore several of these holes, each measuring between three-eights and one-half of an inch in diameter.
Carpenter bees may use the same galleries year after year. Females will build their nests in almost any kind of wood, but they strongly prefer wood that is untreated, weathered, partially rotted or has not been painted.
A carpenter bee gallery extends a short distance into the wood, which facilitates the creation of a number of individual cells. The female lays an egg and leaves behind a pollen ball for the young to feed on after hatching, and the section is sealed off with wood pulp to create the cell. This process repeats along the tunnel’s length until the gallery is completed. The entrance to the gallery is then sealed in a similar fashion, which may render it difficult to find.
It’s easy to see how this nesting behavior can damage your home’s wood structures in both the short and long-term. Besides immediately weakening the wood, it creates opportunities for water, mold and even other pests to enter the wood and cause further harm.
Addressing a Carpenter Bee Problem
Aside from discouraging carpenter bees by using only treated wood, painting any exposed wood surfaces and replacing weakened wood, the easiest way to avoid problems from these insects is by using BeesNThings carpenter bee traps. These traps are specially designed to be highly attractive to carpenter bees, require no chemicals or tools to use, are EPA compliant and won’t disturb the appearance of your home. Simply hang them up anywhere you’ve noticed activity from carpenter bees and watch them work. The bee thinks it has found a suitable nesting site, but instead, it finds itself unable to get out of the trap. A small, removable contain allows you to easily dispose of dead bees and can be used again and again.