The question of how to get rid of carpenter bees has plaques the minds of many who have been infested with these little fellas. Interestingly, Carpenter bees may inflict significant damage to wooden structures, so keep an eye out for them and keep them away from your outdoor furniture.
Carpenter bees are ubiquitous in the United States, and while they are critical pollinators of many flowering plants, they can burrow into sheds, pergolas, and other structures.
Of course, prevention is preferable to treatment, and we would always advocate for wildlife-friendly techniques whenever possible – we have provided several possibilities below.
Where to Find Carpenter Bees and How to Identify Them
Carpenter bees, unlike honeybees, do not dwell in vast colonies. They usually build individual nests to lay their eggs and raise their young.
Although some species live on the ground, most dig into soft, untreated wood such as redwood, cedar, and pine.
In the spring, female bees build these nests and lay their eggs inside for the males to visit and fertilize.
Hatchlings emerge in late summer and leave the nest tunnels searching for flowers before spending the winter within. A carpenter bee’s nest can be identified by the sawdust surrounding or beneath it.
The bees are larger than bumblebees, measuring a half-inch and an inch in length and lacking yellow stripes.
Because male bees are quite territorial and hover about the nests, you’re more likely to observe them, especially during mating season.
They can be frightening, but they don’t have stingers and are unlikely to harm you—the aggressive buzzing is only an act to protect their nests. Female carpenter bees, on the other hand, have stingers but will not attack unless provoked.
These bees can cause structural damage to load-bearing fence posts and other wooden constructions because they build tunnels and may return to them year after year.
Woodpeckers like to go for carpenter bee larvae and can splinter the wood in their search for food, which can cause indirect damage.
How to Get Rid of Carpenter Bees
Despite the problems they can cause, carpenter bees are exceptionally good pollinators, according to Nick Hoefly, a beekeeper at Astor Apiaries in Queens, New York.
These large bugs are good “buzz” pollinators due to their size. This is a type of pollination where the insect vibrates the blossom to dislodge pollen, allowing it to fall onto the female parts of the plant,” he said.
“Many vegetables and fruits, including tomatoes and some berries, rely on this pollination.”
Use Almond, Citrus, or Another Scented Oil
That is why it is better to remove carpenter bees without harming them. Hoefly suggests putting a drop of almond or citrus oil inside any nest openings you discover.
Because they dislike the stench, they will likely leave and look for a less nasty spot to establish a nest.
After they’ve gone, repair the holes with wood putty or steel wool. If you have any undiscovered wood, sand it down, brush away any excess sawdust with a moist sponge, and then paint it. Carpenter bees are drawn to unfinished lumber.
Install Wind Chimes
If you don’t want to keep these pollinators around, Hoefly recommends utilizing wind chimes. The bees dislike the noise, and the persistent jangling may persuade them to seek alternative quarters.
You may have noticed suggestions involving loud music if you’ve been reading a lot about how to get rid of carpenter bees.
While this may annoy the bees, it may also annoy you (and your neighbors). Wind chimes are a more serene solution that never needs to be turned on or off.
Give Them a Home of Their Own
If you really want them to stay, you can give them special housing. This will keep them around and pollinate your garden and local vegetation.
Simple slabs of wood you don’t mind burrowing into can be placed around. Still, Bruce Shriver, a beekeeper at the Gowanus Apiary in Brooklyn, New York, favors “insect hotel-style habitats.”
These are available at any home goods or hardware store, or you may create your own out of scrap wood and naturally hollow material.
“As long as the habitat includes a block of softwood in addition to the reeds, bamboo, straw, and other materials… it should serve well as a decent carpenter bee habitat,” Shriver said.
You’ll get all of the benefits of these super-pollinators without having to worry about them hovering around and burrowing into your fences.
When you have the correct instruments, naturally repelling carpenter bees is simple. Be proactive by changing your Best Bee Traps at the start of spring.
Remember to take immediate action if you notice any nests or damage, and maintain your traps in place until fall to defeat the little second season.