Carpenter bees (sometimes known as wood bees) are typically mistakenly identified as bumble bees due to their size and color. Unlike the fuzzy bumble bee, the carpenter bee has a hairless, shiny and black abdomen and is about an inch in length. Carpenter bees do not eat wood, but burrow into wood and nest within the wood. Many times you will see these bees around your eaves and building nests within wood structures on your property.
Carpenter bees prefer nesting within unfinished wood. A few favorite nesting sites for the carpenter bee are decks, under eaves and other wood areas such as sheds and wood piles. The female bee is quite the handy lady as she will use her strong jaws to drill holes into wood surfaces for the entrance to the nest and then she will make a sharp 90 degree turn and tunnel into the wood. These tunnels can run anywhere from 1 foot to 4 feet long and end with a carved out nesting area.
Carpenter bees are not social insects, but rather solitary bees, which means they do not swarm and rarely sting. Carpenter bees are not aggressive and only the females are equipped with stingers. Although they can sting multiple times without dying, especially if they feel their nest is being threatened, they are typically quite docile. The males may sometimes seem aggressive and you might see them flying around your head, but this is mostly just a scare tactic.
Interesting Fact: You can actually hear the sound of drilling within the wood as the female bees bore into the wood and carve out the tunnels and nests. You may also see sawdust around the edges of an entrance hole.
Since carpenter bees prefer bare wood, painting and staining wood can sometimes help deter them. However, they will occasionally attack stained or painted wood anyway. To prevent carpenter bees from entering your home, seal cracks and crevices along your building’s foundation and walls with a silicone-based caulk, keep doors closed and fix any screens in need of repair.
Treating for carpenter bees can be a challenging task that should be performed by a licensed pest specialist.