Carpenter Bees | Posted: May 19, 2023

Are Carpenter Bees Dangerous?

As spring warms up and nature comes back to life, one of the most visible and obvious insects we see around our homes is the aptly named carpenter bee. Carpenter bees, like bumblebees, are massive compared to their honey-producing cousins, the honey bee, and buzz loudly enough to be heard from several feet away. But are carpenter bees dangerous?

In short: yes, but eastern carpenter bees (scientific name: Xylocopa virginica) are dangerous for reasons other than their sting. Read on to learn more about these woodworking pests and the threats they can pose to your family and your home.


A male carpenter bee stands on a wooden deck board.

Identifying Carpenter Bees

Carpenter bees’ size distinguishes them from most bee and wasp varieties we see in the United States, including honey bees, sweat bees, wasps, hornets, and more. Despite being similar in size and appearance to bumblebees, carpenter bees can be identified by their black abdomen and yellow thorax, whereas bumblebees have tufts of yellow hairs all over.

The best way to identify carpenter bees is through their behavior. Whereas bumblebees are valuable pollinators who bumble from flower to flower, carpenter bees tend to hover around and land on untreated wood. Carpenter bees do eat flower nectar and pollen like other bees, but you will see them frequently visit wood on and around your home, including wood stumps, deck boards, eaves, and other wooden structures.

If you see carpenter bees visiting your home, check the exterior of the building for signs of a carpenter bee problem. Carpenter bees will bore holes into untreated wood to lay eggs and hide their larvae from predators. If you find round holes in old softwood or untreated wood on your property, you likely have a carpenter bee infestation.

How Carpenter Bees Damage Property

Carpenter bees don’t build hives in the traditional sense — they are solitary insects who, at most, live in small familial groups, often consisting of several generations of females. Female carpenter bees are the homemakers of the species, and will begin building a nest as soon as they wake from hibernation and find a mate in the spring.

Because the female bees prefer to build nests in semi-protected softwood, they often gravitate toward wooden structures like homes and barns and bore holes under roofs and eaves to prevent wind and rain from entering their nests. Unlike termites and carpenter ants, carpenter bees will not colonize the bare wood and live inside the holes long after larvae reach maturity, but these holes can gradually degrade the structural integrity of a home if the bees are left unchecked.

Once a wooden structure is riddled with visible carpenter bee nests, predators are sure to follow. Woodpeckers drill for wood-boring insects like carpenter bees and their larvae. The resulting holes can be the same size as carpenter bees’ holes or as large as two inches in diameter, causing additional and possibly more significant structural damage.

A carpenter bee stands on a rotting log showing many bored holes.

Do Carpenter Bees Sting?

Carpenter bees are dangerous to more than the structural integrity of your home. When most people see a bee, they fear the bee’s sting more than anything else.

Carpenter bees can pack a potent, painful sting, however only female carpenter bees possess a stinger. Carpenter bee stings can be quite painful and cause a red, inflamed welt around the site of the sting, and they can be life-threatening for those who have an allergic reaction.

Ironically, male carpenter bees are the “protectors” of the nest, and the most likely to interact directly and aggressively with humans and animals nearby. However, despite their tendency to charge or “dive-bomb” potential threats near their nest, male carpenter bees can do little to harm humans.

Interacting with or touching a carpenter bee nest directly could draw the attention of the stinging female carpenter bee, though, so be careful!

Protect Your Home and Family

A bee infestation can be tricky to deal with: these pollinators are invaluable to a healthy ecosystem. However, the threat of property damage or painful stings make them unwelcome neighbors to most.

Store-bought and DIY pest control can effectively kill carpenter bees and other unwanted flying pests, but prevention and humane removal of bees and bees’ nests helps protect the local food chain and the environment. Remove any untreated wood and brush from your property. Treat or paint any exposed wood on your home. If necessary, consider placing carpenter bee traps near their nests.

If you find that bees are gathering near your home in large numbers, don’t try to handle the situation yourself. Contact a pest control company to remove them for you, as removing bees and their nests can be highly dangerous to anyone besides a professional. Our trained pest management experts have all the knowledge and protective equipment, and tools needed to safely and effectively address your pest problem.

If you’re concerned about bees or other pests around your home, call Dodson Pest Control for a free inspection. We will identify your pest and develop a custom plan to keep them away from you, your home, and your family. 

Contact us today for a complimentary inspection.

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