What Are Carpenter Bees?

What Are Carpenter Bees

Bees are an ecologically important species; therefore, pest control for bees and wasps in Guelph must be handled delicately. Take carpenter bees, for example. This docile species resembling the bumblebee has an important role to play in plant pollination. On the other hand, its habit of excavating tunnels in wood products in which to lay eggs and raise its young can lead to extensive property damage if not addressed. It is best to avoid killing carpenter bees if possible by preventing an infestation in the first place. On the other hand, once an infestation occurs, pest control is sometimes the only alternative. 

What Do Carpenter Bees Look Like?

Carpenter bees are often mistaken for bumblebees as the two species are about the same size, and each can have yellow-and-black coloration. However, bumblebees are hairy all over their bodies. The thorax of the carpenter bee is often yellow and hairy as well, but the abdomen is typically shiny, black and smooth. Bumblebees almost always have some yellow on their bodies, while carpenter bees may be black all over. 

Why Do Carpenter Bees Tunnel in Wood?

Carpenter bees bore into wood and excavate tunnels to create nests to lay eggs and raise their young. This includes wood products on and around the home as well as trees. Any wood product greater than 50 millimeters thick may be susceptible: 

  • Decks
  • Lawn furniture
  • Doors
  • Railings
  • Windowsills
  • Roof eaves
  • Shingles

At first, the damage done to a wood product by a carpenter bee may be minimal. However, female carpenter bees typically return to the same burrow year after year and excavate a new tunnel in which to raise that season’s young. Over time, the female carpenter bee’s activities can cause extensive structural damage, especially if more than one bee makes a nest in the same structure. 

How Can You Tell if You Have Carpenter Bees?

When digging a tunnel for a new nest, a carpenter bee may leave behind a hole approximately half an inch in diameter. Carpenter bees feed on nectar and pollen and do not eat the wood that they excavate from the tunnels, as termites do. Therefore, you may find pulverized wood accumulating on the ground below the entrance to the nest. 

If you have a nest of carpenter bees, you may notice them flying around the entrance. Male bees sometimes fly aggressively toward intruders. However, they have no stings and are harmless to humans. Female carpenter bees do have stings that they may use to defend against insect intruders. Nevertheless, bees–like wasps–typically do not view humans as a threat and rarely sting unless handled or seriously provoked

How Can You Prevent Carpenter Bee Infestation?

Preventing an infestation of carpenter bees in your home is a better option for both you and the bees. One way to encourage them to stay away from your home is to place slabs of wood strategically on your property as far away from the house as possible. These slabs should come from softwood tree species, such as spruce, pine, fir, and cedar, as the bees have shown a preference for conifers. They should be placed in areas that receive a lot of direct sunlight because female carpenter bees are less likely to make nests in shaded areas. 

Another way to protect the wood of your home from carpenter bees is to treat the surfaces with paint or varnish. Carpenter bees seem to prefer unfinished wood. The thicker and heavier the finish, the more effective it is to be against carpenter bees, with paint typically better than stain. 

Pest Control for Bees and Wasps Guelph Options

When you call Truly Nolen about pest control for bees and wasps in Guelph, we first perform an inspection to assess the issue and determine a course of action based on that. Contact us for identification of the bees on your property and recommendations for professional removal.