Carpenter Bees | Posted: April 26, 2023

How to Prevent Carpenter Bee Damage

During spring and summer, pest activity peaks, and unfortunately, increased pest activity can create significant problems – like property destruction. Carpenter bees are a type of solitary bee that can damage wooden structures, including homes and other buildings. Although they do not pose a significant physical threat to humans, they can be a nuisance and cause substantial damage to wooden structures over time. If you are looking to prevent carpenter bees from damaging your property, there are several measures you can take.

What Are Carpenter Bees?

Carpenter bees, native to North America, are most known for their distinctive nesting habits. They are often mistaken for bumble bees because of their similar appearance, but they have markedly different behaviors. Carpenter bees do not live in hives. Rather, these solitary insects bore holes into wooden structures where they lay eggs and raise their young, usually in the early spring months. While bumble bees and honeybees are beloved thanks to their status as pollinators, carpenter bees are loathed for their ability to cause structural damage.

Carpenter bees aren’t the only pests that damage wooden structures. In order to properly address your concerns, it’s vital to understand what kind of pest has invaded your property.

Signs of Carpenter Bee Damage

Carpenter ants, termites, and carpenter bees all damage wooden structures – but how can you know which pest is the culprit? Several common signs can indicate a carpenter bee infestation. 

What Does Carpenter Bee Damage Look Like?

One of the most obvious (and concerning) is carpenter bee damage. Unlike termite damage that resembles horizontal shelving along wood grains, carpenter bee damage presents as round holes, usually about half an inch in diameter, in wooden structures such as eaves, decks, or fences. These holes act as nests for female carpenter bees to lay eggs. The holes are typically smooth and clean-cut, and may have sawdust or wood shavings around them. Carpenter bees are wood-boring insects, and the almost perfectly round holes they leave behind are distinct from other insects — in fact, you’re more likely to mistake carpenter bee damage for a drill hole or something else manmade.

Other Signs of Carpenter Bees

Another sign of a carpenter bee problem is an unusual uptick in bee swarming, particularly during the spring and summer months. You may also notice increased woodpecker activity, as these birds are attracted to carpenter bee larvae that live inside the holes created by adult bees. Finally, you may hear buzzing coming from inside the wood, caused by the movement of the bees within their tunnels as they tend their young.

Things That Attract Carpenter Bees

If you notice carpenter bees residing on your property, it’s likely due to an abundance of unpainted or untreated wood. Carpenter bees will avoid drilling holes in wood sources that are coated in chemicals or other finishes, but they aren’t picky about what untreated wooden structures they’ll target. From natural fixtures like trees and stumps, to man-made structures like porches, railings, or wood sidings, carpenter bees will gravitate toward exposed wood surfaces.

Ways to Prevent Carpenter Bees

There are several ways to prevent carpenter bees from damaging your property.

Don’t leave wooden surfaces unfinished. One of the most effective ways to ward off carpenter bees is to paint or treat any wooden structures on your property with a varnish or topcoat, especially if they harden the surface of the wood. Carpenter bees prefer soft wood, and most finishes and paint create enough of a barrier to deter these pests.

Consider applying pesticides or DIY remedies. You can also use insecticides available at home improvement stores or natural repellents like citrus oil to deter carpenter bees. These pesticides and natural remedies aren’t always effective, though, and can be dangerous if applied incorrectly.

Remove dead and decaying wood. Rotting wood is easy for carpenter bees to bore into. Decaying logs, fallen trees, and stumps can all serve as breeding grounds for carpenter bees and other wood-destroying insects.

Plug carpenter bee nests. If you have an active infestation, you may be able to prevent bees from returning by plugging their nests. Once you’ve identified carpenter bee holes, fill them in with wooden dowels, wood putty, or caulk. After the nests are plugged, carpenter bees will be unable to enter or exit. This method can be effective for preventing a carpenter bee nest from growing, but it may not deter new bees from boring additional holes.

Use carpenter bee traps. Finally, you can install traps or netting around your property to prevent carpenter bees from nesting in your property. The traps mimic the ideal home for a carpenter bee — a soft pine box with a small hole — but siphon the bees into a bottle or jar attached to the bottom where they cannot escape. These carpenter bee traps and nets can be placed over the entrances to potential nesting sites, restricting access.

How to Get Rid of Carpenter Bees

Our on-staff entomologist, David Moore, explains what steps you should take if you have an active carpenter bee infestation.

How to get rid of Carpenter Bees
How to get rid of Carpenter Bees

Dodson Pest Control Offers Professional Carpenter Bee Treatments

The best way to tackle a carpenter bee problem is with professional intervention. Preventing carpenter bee damage is essential for maintaining the structural integrity of your home or building. By taking steps to make your property less attractive to carpenter bees, you can reduce the likelihood of them nesting there. But, if you already have an active problem, our experts are here to help. 

With more than 75 years of experience, Dodson Pest Control has the knowledge to address a carpenter bee problem and save your home from thousands of dollars’ worth of damage.

Contact us today!