What are Carpenter Bees?
These bees get their common name from their habit of boring into wood. Carpenter bees do not eat wood but cause damage to structures by drilling circular holes to create tunnels inside wood. Unlike other common bees, such as honeybees and bumble bees that live in colonies, the bees are not social insects and build individual nests into trees outdoors or into the frames, eaves or sides of buildings.
- Color: Yellow or black
- Legs: 6
- Shape: Oval and robust
- Size: 1/4 – 1 inch long
- Antennae: Yes
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What Do Carpenter Bees Look Like?
Carpenter bees look like bumblebees in appearance, but they lack yellow markings on their abdomens. Instead, the bee abdomens are smooth, shiny, and black, whereas bumblebees’ have hairy, yellow abdomens.
Physical features of these bees may vary slightly, as there are seven different species of carpenter bees across the U.S. and hundreds worldwide. Eastern carpenter bees, common in North Carolina, strongly emulate the appearance of bumblebees, with sleek, black bodies and a patch of yellow hair on their thorax. Other species, such as the California carpenter bee, can have all-black bodies.
The most common signs of a bee infestation are the round, smooth holes that these bees bore into wood. To identify early damage to buildings, homeowners should regularly inspect the perimeter of the home and surrounding property for the presence of these holes and hovering bees.
Since these bees prefer bare wood, painting and staining wood can sometimes help deter them. However, they will occasionally attack stained or painted wood. To avoid these bees and prevent them from entering the home, seal cracks and crevices along the property’s foundation and walls with a silicone-based caulk, repair any tears in screens, and always keep doors closed.
Carpenter Bee Infestation
How to Get Rid of Carpenter Bees
An appropriately labeled insecticide specifically applied to each gallery can help control developing bees in the wood. Following the insecticide application, the holes should be left for the females to enter and encounter the product. After a time, the holes can be sealed to prevent any overwintering bees from reusing galleries the next year. Proper bee control can be difficult, so it is advised to contact a PMI-licensed pest control professional for proper bee control. We have the knowledge to inspect the property for galleries and choose the appropriate treatment method.
These bees do not live in nests or colonies. Instead, female carpenter bees bore circular holes through soft wood to lay eggs and protect their larvae as they develop.
Do Carpenter Bees Sting?
Male carpenter bees cannot sting, but they are territorial and will often buzz around people, leading to a fear of being stung. Female carpenter bees sting; however, it is on very rare occasions and requires provocation.