What Do Carpenter Bee Nests Look Like?

Last Updated on March 5, 2021 by Bees N Things

Carpenter bee types

carpenter bee nestsThere are two distinct kinds of carpenter bees: smaller carpenter bees, and larger carpenter bees. If you have issue with carpenter bees, get in touch with professionals at Generally speaking, the larger carpenter bees are the more problematic variation of the two. The smaller carpenter bees are generally under 8 mm long in size, while the larger ones can reach up to 25 mm long.

The diverse color variations of carpenter bees can range from metallic blue to greenish black, though both the female and male carpenter bees will have golden hairs that are prominently displayed on their thorax and legs. It may be easy to initially mistake carpenter bees for bumblebees, but one of the easiest ways to distinguish carpenter bees from bumblebees is the fact that the hair on carpenter bee legs generally isn’t as vibrant or voluminous as bumblebee legs.

Typically, bumblebees will have many more hairs on the top of their abdomen than carpenter bees. Carpenter bees can generally always be distinguished by their distinctly metallic sheen, which differs heavily from the characteristically fuzzy profile of the bumblebee.

No matter the kind of bee people always ask “what is the best carpenter bee trap”. We have several solutions for each bee type.

Common wood preferences

Contrary to popular belief, carpenter bees do not literally eat wood. Much like many other bees, carpenter bees have a taste for nectar and pollen. The carpenter bee earns its namesake by digging into worn down wooden objects to plant its offspring, especially if the wood lacks a coat of paint. If you have any dry railings or windowsills, then you have a perfect invitation for a carpenter bee to begin excavating.

Carpenter bees have particularly strong preferences when it comes to the type of wood that they are most likely to target. Redwood, oak, cypress, fir, and pinewood are all of the carpenter bee’s most favorite types of wood to sink its mandibles into. Though carpenter bees will generally always prioritize getting into unpainted wood over painted wood, the larger variations of the species will sometimes excavate painted wood all the same.

Identifying the nest

bee nestsCarpenter bee nests have a very distinctive appearance that makes them fortunately easy to identify on sight. Carpenter bees create winding, segmented tunnels through the wood that they designate to be their nest. In a sense, a carpenter bee nest could be described as an elongated “tail” of combs that snakes through the face of the infested wood.

The combs contain individual larvae that feed upon a deposit of food left by their late mother until they reach maturity and can fly out to continue the cycle. Without any outside interference, it will take just under two months for the carpenter be to progress from its larval form to its complete adult form.

Typically, the tunnel that the carpenter bee excavates will be perpendicular to the grain of the wood. After about 1 or 2 inches have been covered by the perpendicular excavation, the tunnel will take a sharp right angle turn that continues along a relatively straight path. Along the path, the segmentations will be cultivated into brood cells for the larvae.

Over the course of multiple years, the tunnels that a carpenter bee excavates could increase by several feet. Even on flat, unbroken wood surfaces, female carpenter bees may take it upon themselves to drill out a round entrance for the next if necessary.

The size of the hole is just about equal to the diameter of the female carpenter bee’s body, at just about under 0.5 inches wide. Though the carpenter bee lacks power tools, the shape of the hole could just as well be easily mistaken for the work of an actual drill.

Dealing with the invaders

Unlike bumblebees and wasps, carpenter bees are not social insects. Though they may not have collective colonies, they can understandably still be a nuisance to many homeowners who would rather not have the wood of their property turned into a carpenter bee daycare. Fortunately, the presence of carpenter bee nest can be dealt with relatively inexpensively and safely.

Insecticidal dust can be applied directly into the opening of the nest, and if this is done at night, the risk of getting stung can be minimized. As a safety precaution, be sure to wear protective gear and some form of respiration protection to prevent getting inhaling the pesticide. Feel free to give BeesNThings Carpenter Bee Traps a look in order to find the carpenter bee solution that suits your needs the best.