Carpenter bees, belonging to the genus Xylocopa, are large, robust bees distributed worldwide. There are about 500 species of these solitary bees. Despite their name, carpenter bees do not eat wood but burrow into it to create nests. They are crucial pollinators in their local ecosystems but can become a nuisance when they infest human structures.
Carpenter bees are often mistaken for bumblebees due to their similar size and coloration. However, you can distinguish between the two by examining their abdomen. Carpenter bees have a shiny, hairless, black abdomen, while bumblebees have a hairy, often yellow or orange marked abdomen.
Adult carpenter bees are typically around 1 inch in length. Males are golden-brown, while females are black. Males also have a white or yellow face, unlike the black face of the female. Another identifying feature is their noisy, loud flight.
Behavior and Habitat
Carpenter bees are solitary bees, with each female excavating her own nest in wood. They prefer weathered, unpainted wood, such as the backside of fascia boards, decks, and outdoor furniture. The female will drill a round hole (about 1/2 inch in diameter) into the wood and then turn at a 90-degree angle to hollow out a gallery where she will lay her eggs.
These bees are not typically aggressive. Males may display aggressive behavior when humans approach the nests, but they lack a stinger and pose no real threat. Female carpenter bees do have a potent sting but are usually docile unless directly handled or threatened.
While carpenter bees are essential pollinators, they can become problematic when they bore into wooden structures. Here are some commonly used extermination techniques:
- Pesticides: Specific insecticides are designed to kill carpenter bees. This process often involves injecting the insecticide directly into the nest.
- Physical Barriers: Painting or staining wood can deter carpenter bees as they prefer untreated wood.
- Traps: Carpenter bee traps lure bees into a wooden box from which they cannot escape.
Remember, extermination should be a last resort due to their role as pollinators. Always consider professional wasp control help for managing a significant carpenter bee infestation.
Only female carpenter bees sting. They are not typically aggressive and only sting when directly handled or threatened. Male carpenter bees may act aggressively but do not have a stinger.
You can deter carpenter bees by treating exposed wood surfaces. They tend not to burrow into painted or stained wood. Regular inspection and repair of wooden structures can also help prevent an infestation.
While they don’t pose a threat on the scale of termites, carpenter bees can cause damage over time, particularly when several generations enlarge the same galleries in the wood year after year. Large infestations can weaken wooden structures and warrant professional attention.
Understanding these creatures and their behavior can help in managing them effectively. If you have a significant problem, call Arete Pest Control and let our experienced bee control technicians help.