Carpenter Bees

Carpenter bees at times become a annoyance outdoors whenever they fly rather erratically (hover) round the heads of individuals , creating worry. Property owners complain not only about the hostile characteristics, but about the round holes bored into wood trim around eaves and also gables of houses, facia boards, porch ceilings, outdoor wooden furniture, decking, hand rails, fence posts, phone poles, siding, shingles, dead  limbs and other weathered wood.

Initial destruction might be minor, yet new tunnels may well  be excavated as well as old ones made bigger, causing considerable  damage. Moreover, the yellow, coarse sawdust from borings beneath the entry hole hold the waste materials, leaving aesthetically displeasing staining.

How to Identify Carpenter Bees

Carpenter bees look like bumble bees. They’re commonly large, 3/4 to 1 inch long, heavy-bodied, blue-black to black colored with a greenish or even purple metallic shine.

The thorax will be covered by vibrant yellowish, orange or white-colored hairs along with the abdomen, specifically on the top side, is black, shiny and bare without hairs. It is the males, with white markings upon its head, that fly about aggressively, nevertheless they’re harmless because they don’t have a stinger. Females possess black heads, are generally docile and rarely sting.

They’ve a heavy brush of hairs on the hind legs whereas bumble bees have big pollen baskets as well as numerous, yellow hairs on the belly. Larvae are saclike, white and legless with brown, globular heads that bear small mouthparts.  The pupal stage is passed in a silent cocoon.

Carpenter Bees –  Life Cycle and Habits

Both female and male carpenter bees spend winter as adults inside their old nest tunnels. Adults emerge in the spring (April through early May) and mate.

Females provision their tunnels or galleries with bee bread (a mixture of pollen and regurgitated nectar), lay an egg on top of the mass and shut the cell with chewed wood pulp. She excavates the gallery by using her mandibles (mouthparts) at the rate of one inch in six days.

The gallery has a clean-cut round entrance hole with sharp edges 3/8 to 1/2 inch wide (dime-sized) on the lateral wood surface.

The gallery continues inward for one to two inches, and then turns sharply at a 90 degree right angle running  the same direction as the wood grain for four to six inches or up to 10 feet long, when used by quite a few bees. Damage from a pair of Carpenter bees can be minor, yet when used by lots of Carpenter bees over several years, destruction could be extensive.

Each female may have six to eight sealed brood cells in a linear row in one gallery as she backs outward. Larvae develop on the pollen/nectar food mass provided, with the life cycle completed in 30 to 40 days.

New adults chew through the cell partitions and emerge in late August. They collect and store pollen in the existing galleries, return to the tunnels to hibernate and mate the following spring.  The previous year’s adults die. They are not social insects and there is one generation per year.

Carpenter Bees –  Control Measures

Infestations are generally first detected by finding big amounts of sawdust droppings on the ground below the area being drilled or by observing bees going in and out of the round, circular holes in the wood affected. These bees attack all species of dried, seasoned wood, preferring softwoods like cedar, redwood, cypress, pine and fir.

Nail holes, exposed saw cuts and unpainted wood are attractive nesting sites. They could refurbish an existing tunnel instead of boring a new one or new tunnels could  be constructed near old ones with infestations persisting for a few years.

Carpenter Bees –  Prevention

Keep all exposed wood surfaces well painted (oil base or polyurethane) to reduce attack. Wood stains won’t prevent damage. Aluminum, asbestos, asphalt, vinyl siding and similar non-wood materials won’t be damaged. If feasible, get rid of and replace damaged wood with  pressure-treated wood in order to dissuade nest construction.

Carpenter Bees –  Insecticides

In the daytime, find tunnel entrances and at night, on a cool evening while carpenter bees tend to be much less active, treat directly into the nest entrance and on the wide part of adjacent wood surface. You should not plug the entrance since  bees need to be permitted to pass freely to distribute the insecticide inside the holes.

If tunnels are plugged before bees are killed, they might chew new openings elsewhere. Dust applications are ordinarily more residual and effective than sprays due to the nature of the gallery construction. Even newly emerged bees will contact the dust when leaving the opening.

Following treatment, some wait until adult activity ceases or until autumn before sealing the hole with caulking compound or wood putty. This procedure reduces wood deterioration and possible future infestation. Make certain to wear protective clothing to avoid any stings during treatment.

Dusts include bendiocarb (Ficam), boric acid (Perma-Dust), carbaryl (Sevin) or pyrethrins (Microcare). Other pesticides, either with some formulations restricted or restricted to be applied only by a licensed pesticide operator or applicator, include bendiocarb   pyrethrins (Ficam Plus), bifenthrin (Biflex), chlorpyrifos (Duration, Dursban, Empire, Engage, Tenure), cyfluthrin (Optem, Tempo), cypermethrin (Cynoff, Cyper-Active, Demon), deltamethrin (Suspend), fenvalerate (Tribute), permethrin (Astro, Dragnet, Flee, Prelude, Torpedo) and tralomethrin (Saga).

Property owners are able to use liquid sprays of carbaryl, diazinon, propoxur (Baygon), pyrethrins and resmethrin. Always peruse the label and follow directions and safety precautions.

About John Payton

Bee control expert and founder of a bee control company
This entry was posted in Bee Control, Bee Removal and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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