When the weather gets warmer, you might spot you have some intimidating things flying around your garden that could be ‘Yellow Jackets.’ Luckily there is more chance of them being carpenter bees.
Although they will dart around, they are in fact harmless to humans, but as their name suggests, they can play havoc to structures in your garden, or even worse in your home.
This type of bee is a pollinator which is excellent for your garden and the environment, but once they have their heart set on an area, they will do their utmost to make their nest there.
What can you do about it, and is it even possible to get rid of carpenter bees without calling professional pest control companies?
How to Be Sure You Have Carpenter Bees
If you see large black and yellow bees which hover around, and dart in and out of the eaves around your home, then you stand a good chance of having carpenter bees in your roof.
Carpenter bees are solitary bees, and they have very different nesting habits when you compare them to other varieties. Bumblebees for instance which look very similar make their nests in the ground.
Honey bees can nest around a home, but these look very different and have smaller fuzzy bodies with thin wings. These carpenter bees bore holes through the wood to make space where they can lay their eggs.
You might see holes and think it is an old nest, but when the weather is warmer in April and May, the carpenter bees can become active again and emerge from abandoned nests where they have spent the winter.
You will see carpenter bee holes are perfectly round and about the size of a small finger. A queen only creates one nesting hole, so if you see multiple holes, there is a high chance you have numerous nests.
Do Carpenter Bees Prefer Certain Woods?
There are certain woods the female carpenter bee prefers when she is looking to make a nest. Woods which are untreated and unpainted are obvious targets. The queen also likes any of the following: pine, cypress, redwood or cedar.
Woods which are painted or pressure treated is less susceptible to these boring bees. If you have any stained wood, then you might find they have taken root because wood stain doesn’t offer much of a deterrent like paint, but it can provide more than bare wood.
Areas to Look for Carpenter Bees
- Wooden play equipment
- Outdoor furniture
- Wooden shingles or shakes
- Sidings and fascia boards
- Window trims
- Roof eaves
If you check these areas, there are signs you can see which will give a further indication if you have a carpenter bee infestation or not.
- Sawdust – this can fall on the ground where the carpenter bee holes have been drilled
- Holes in the wood – these are visible holes in the wood
- Pollen and feces – the mixture of these two produces a yellowish mixture which stains the wood around the entrance to the holes
Carpenter bees prefer to use existing nests because boring through the wood takes a lot of time and energy. Tunnels which are refurbished can increase to several feet over the span of a few years if gone unnoticed.
Depending on the region you live, you might see numerous holes which are very different. These are more than likely woodpeckers, who are themselves drilling into the wood to get to the bee’s eggs. These birds can do more structural damage to your home than the bees.
How to Get Rid of Carpenter Bees
There are several ways in which you can reduce the carpenter bee’s activity around your home or garden, but to fully get rid of carpenter bees from your property, the only real solution is to call a professional pest management service.
Many people only resort to this if they have taken up nesting in their home. Because there is little chance of them stinging, the carpenter bees damage on some occasions doesn’t require anything as drastic.
DIY Options for Carpenter Bee Treatment
One of the first things you can do as a quick bee repellant is to paint the wood surfaces which are bare and untreated.
The only downside to this is, if you can’t get to all sides, then the bees will find the unpainted side and bore their way in from there.
The one area on your home that is prone to carpenter bees is behind fascia boards on the roofline. This is the area woodpeckers wreak havoc looking for the bee’s eggs.
Tips for preventing damage on your fascia boards are as follows:
If you are replacing these boards, new wood will just have the same problems, and the carpenter bee problem will return.
To prevent carpenter bee infestation of your new fascia boards, wrap all of the three sides in vinyl or aluminum siding. This needs carrying out, or the bees will bore their way in the underside.
Preventing Carpenter Bee Infestations
Prevention is the secret into ridding your home of carpenter bees. All wooden surfaces which are unpainted should have a coat or two, and even if the paint is cracked and flaky, it could do with touching up.
If you have exterior openings where the bees can get inside, these should be sealed. Carpenter bees look for cracks which will protect their entrance holes.
A quick layer of caulk can be enough to stop them worming their way inside tiny crevices.
To prevent carpenter bee infestations, the work needs to be carried out before there is any sign of nesting activity.
If you don’t have a chance to do it before there is activity, then more harsh methods will need to be taken.
Residual spray treatments – the areas where there are signs of boring will be sprayed with these residual spray treatments.
To prevent the onset of carpenter bees, you need to spray in March or at the latest early April before there is any nesting.
The areas which have been sprayed should have two treatments with an interval of 3-4 weeks. If the treated areas are protected from the rain, these treatments will be sufficient for up to 3 months.
If you have them applied in late winter, the treatment will stay active through most of the season when carpenter bees are at their most active.
Dusting the bees holes – you can purchase dust and dusters which come with curved tips. Inside the hole, they normally take a turn, so having a tip that can follow this helps the dust penetrate all the way into the hole.
This dusting can help, but if the nest is fully established, it can go quite a way into the wood. Additionally, this will only kill the bees in active nests and will not harm the eggs which are behind secure walls.
Plugging up the holes – this is usually carried out in the summer months when all of the active bees have left the area, and before any wintering bees come back to nest. You can plug the holes with cork, putty or caulk.
At this stage, you will have no doubt already called a professional pest management company. However, there are some natural ways how to get rid of wood bees from your home.
Fast Ways to Tackle Carpenter Bees
Trapping the bees – this is time-consuming, but it won’t harm the bees. To make a trap, all you need to do is use screen mesh and form it into an exit cone with the smallest hole around 3/8th of an inch.
Place the widest end of the cone around the hole of the hive. On the smaller end, have something for the bees to get into which they are unable to escape. The small hole will prevent them from returning.
Once the original hive is empty, you can discard the bees and plug the holes.
DIY bee sprays – you can make your own natural bee repellant from a few ingredients. Mix 1 drop of peppermint, tea tree, and cinnamon oil with 1 cup of baby shampoo which is unscented. You can use the oils one by one or mix all three together.
Once you have mixed it, pour it into an empty spray bottle, and spray all the areas where you want to keep the carpenter bees away from.
A vinegar spray – this can be another quick and easy way, but you should be wary. This method can agitate the bees as it is a little more than a bee repellant, so you are better off doing it at night and make sure you are covered just in case.
Mix half and half of vinegar and water and place this mixture in a bottle spray. Coat the nest at night, and spray areas where they are most active during the day. This can be reapplied as needed, and if you see any dead bees, these should be removed.