How To Get Rid Of Carpenter Bees

If you have an active wood bee infestation, follow these guidelines with professional Carpenter Bee spray

How To Identify A Carpenter Bee

Carpenter Bees can look like Bumble Bees, large, with yellow and black patterns. They are about 1/2 to 1 inch and may have some metallic reflections ranging from dark blue, yellow, green, or purple tints. Their abdomens are bare and shiny, which are different from Bumble Bees, which have more hair.

They are commonly sighted in the spring, hovering like a helicopter around eaves, porch rails, and under decks. Sometimes carpenter bees are called "wood bees" because they bore into wood. Carpenter Bees do not eat the wood for nutrition. Carpenter bees, as pollinators, eat nectar and pollen from flowering plants.

Carpenter bees are not considered a true structural pest since they do not spread throughout the entire structure. They prefer unpainted or unfinished wood.

Carpenter Bee vs. Bumble Bee
Carpenter Bee vs. Bumble Bee

Signs of Carpenter Bee Infestations

Carpenter Bees make holes about 1/2 inch in diameter. They prefer unfinished wood and can drill and create tunnels in seasoned hardwoods, softwoods, and decaying woods. Look for "frass," which looks like sawdust from these drilling areas.

The female carpenter bee bores a channel or main corridor in wood from 6 " to as long as 4 feet to lay their eggs in divided areas called "galleries" or "cells". She deposits an egg into these galleries and brings them a mass of pollen for the newly hatched larvae to feed. Then, she seals them all off to ensure their development before she repeats the next egg process. Carpenter bee galleries have entrance holes on the wood surface, continue inward for a short distance, and turn to run in the same direction as the wood grain.

carpenter bees can make perfectly round holes

Carpenter bee frass
Carpenter Bee Frass

How To Get Rid Of Carpenter Bees (3 Steps)

Step 1. Spray A Residual Insecticide

If you have an active infestation, spray the areas where carpenter bees are boring in wood with:

Their holes are usually located on the underside of wood surfaces, including siding, soffits, overhangs, decks, fence posts, fascia boards, and window frames. We recommend spraying twice during the spring months at intervals of 3-4 weeks. Sometimes the bees may bore into painted or varnished wood.

If protected from the elements like rain, this residual insecticide will last 2 to 3 months. If applied in late winter, the treatment will stay active through most of the carpenter bee season.

Severe Infestations

For severe infestations of carpenter bees on cedar and log structures, you may need to repeat the treatments more than twice. We suggest an interval of two weeks for spray treatments. After each spray treatment, apply D-Fense Dust or Tempo Dust to all possible carpenter bee holes or entry points.

Step 2. Use Dust In Carpenter Bee Holes

If you have a current infestation, dust with Tempo Dust in as many carpenter bee holes as possible. Fill the JT Eaton Hand Bellow Duster or your chosen duster 1/2 way with dust and dust into the openings.

Although their holes appear only an inch or two deep, it usually extends at a 90-degree angle. The female will turn 90 degrees and bore a channel from 6 inches to as long as 4 feet. This channel serves as the main corridor from which she will drill small chambers a few inches deep. These chambers become egg holders. She will deposit an egg, bring in some food, and then seal it off to ensure the egg's development.

  • It may be difficult to treat each individual gallery with dust, aerosol, or liquid residual insecticides, due to the 90-degree angle, but it is important to try if you have a current infestation.
  • To learn more about carpenter bee holes: Carpenter Bee Holes
Carpenter Bee entering hole
Carpenter Bee entering hole

Step 3. Plug Up Carpenter Bee Holes

  • Plug the holes after all the bees are killed. A safe time to plug entrances is in the early fall months.
  • You can plug up the entrances with plugs, cork, putty, or use a caulking compound. We suggest sealing the holes with wood putty since you can paint over the wood. We also carry Carpenter Bee Blocker Kits that are made of stainless steel screens with installation tools.
  • Suppose you plug up the entrances too early. In that case, you will stop the carpenter bees from passing through the insecticide dust, and they may chew new openings in other locations.
  • The following year, spray early to prevent further boring.
  • Getting rid of Carpenter Bees depends on the timing of the year. You can prevent carpenter bee infestations if you tackle the situation early enough.
Carpenter Bee Holes
Carpenter Bee Holes

(Optional Step)- A Non-Chemical Natural Approach

Carpenter Bee Traps and Natural Repellent

For those considering a non-chemical approach to carpenter bee control, we recommend carpenter bee traps like, Best Bee Trap or Citrus Spray Carpenter Bee Repellent

The carpenter bee trap is specially designed to attract and trap carpenter bees. If you have an existing carpenter bee infestation, hang it directly over the carpenter bee holes. If you do not have a current infestation, hang the traps at the peaks and corners of your home, preferably on the sunniest side of your house.

How To Prevent Carpenter Bee Infestations

Spray Early (early spring months)

  • Prevention is the operative word for carpenter bee control. Prevent them before you have to get rid of them. Carpenter bees prefer to boreholes in the wooden areas that receive the morning sun or afternoon sun.
  • Carpenter Bees attack unfinished wood under decks, sills, and decks first. Varnish or paint these wood surfaces to make them less attractive to these bees. A fresh coat of paint is unattractive to a Carpenter Bee.
  • Seal as many exterior openings as possible early, before spring. The Carpenter Bees are looking for cracks that will protect entrances. Seal and caulk these cracks and crevices. To make sealing easier, we recommend Carpenter Bee Blocker Kits that have stainless steel screens that fit in carpenter bee holes. However, if you seal these holes while the carpenter bees are inside, they will drill out a hole to exit.
  • Carpenter Bees will reuse holes from the previous season. Calk these holes in the fall, after the carpenter bees have emerged. Top recommendation is the Carpenter Bee Blocker Kits.
  • Carpenter Bee prevention and extermination are usually best done before nesting activity gets started.
  • Spray the unfinished wood in these vulnerable areas (under rail sidings, under decks, around window sills, etc.) with the recommended residual insecticides.
  • The best time to spray preventatively for carpenter bee control is springtime. Nesting and the rearing of young carpenter bees occur.
Spring Time Tree

Key Takeaway

Prevent holes by spraying insecticide concentrates. Treat existing holes with insecticide dusts.

Residual Insecticides (For Active Infestations Or Prevention)

These residual insecticides will make several gallons of finished product and can also be used to treat a broad variety of insects. Apply them for carpenter bee prevention, or if you have an active infestation.

Bee Traps and Natural Solutions

Carpenter Bee Traps offer an addition to your carpenter bee treatment or a stand-alone natural treatment method.

Citrus Spray Carpenter Bee Repellent is a natural repellent against carpenter bees.

Carpenter Bee Kits (Combines residual insecticides and Dusts)

How To Discourage Woodpeckers

Key Takeaway

Woodpeckers may peck into carpenter bee tunnels in the wood trying to eat the bee larvae. Spray a residual insecticide into the carpenter bee holes and on the wood in the spring. This will discourage the carpenter bees from attacking the wood. This, in turn, will discourage woodpeckers.