Carpenter Bees: Are they attacking your home?

Carpenter bees attacking your home can be problematic.  The treatment of carpenter bees can be even more problematic depending on the location of the infestation.  In this post I want to go over the basic biology of carpenter bees, how they’re treated, why you have them, and some self help tips.

Carpenter Bee
“Carpenter Bee on Phlox”by Dendroica cerulea.
Licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Carpenter Bee Biology

The basic biology of a carpenter bee is very interesting and it centers mostly upon the female. When the female is ready to give birth she excavates galleries in wood that are about 7″ long, perfectly round and approximately the same diameter as her body.  These galleries will contain 6-7 eggs which are laid on top of a slurry of pollen and nectar.  The pollen and nectar will be a food source for the larval stage to survive on.  After the female provisions the nest she will close each egg into it’s own cell.  The cell wall is made up of wood pulp and effectively locks the egg off from the remainder of the gallery.  The female continues this process until all her eggs are deposited.

The development of a carpenter bee will progress through the egg, larval and pupal stages and in total take approximately 40 days.  The newly emerged adults will then overwinter in the gallery and begin the process over again next season.

Homeowners will begin to actively see carpenter bees around April-May.  It’s important to note that carpenter bee damage won’t effect the structure of a home and the damage will be limited in scope to the areas where the bees are seen hovering outside the hole.  Further, although carpenter bee females can sting, they rarely do.

Carpenter bees are solitary insects and do not build large nests like wasps.

Treating For Carpenter Bees

Carpenter Bee treatments can be difficult because of the height of some of the areas that carpenter bees are known to dig galleries and the location of the holes.  Typically, their galleries will be found in the fascia along the roof line of a home.  However, they can be found anywhere where weathered or unpainted wood is found.

When treating for carpenter bees it’s imperative that the hole itself be treated with either a residual dust or liquid. The only issue with this is locating all the holes and delivering the product can be difficult, but it’s not and impossible task.

After treatment and as height restrictions permit it’s advisable to seal the excavated hole with wood putty.

Self Help For Carpenter Bees

Over the years I’ve seen carpenter bees return to homes year after year.  In most cases carpenter bee issues can be taken care of with a treatment from a trained professional.  Along with a professional treatment there are some things a homeowner can do to help themselves.

1. Paint unpainted wood.

In most all cases where carpenter bee damage is taking place there will be wood that is unpainted.  When homes are built it will be a rare painting contractor that paints the back of a fascia board.  The fascia board is the most likely area of the home to be attacked and the area most in need of paint to prevent the damage form occurring.

2.  Call as soon as you see carpenter bees

Many homeowners wait too long to do anything about carpenter bees.  The typical scenario is that people call in June after most all of the damage has been done and more importantly after the eggs have been planted.  It’s too late in June, call as soon as you first see the bees.

3. The fascia board has extensive damage.

In some cases there’s just to much damage and replacement will be necessary.  Putting off the inevitable sometimes will keep the bees in the area where they’ll be free to explore other areas on your home.

If you have carpenter bees and need help, call Envirocare Pest Control at 1-888-879-6481