How To Get Rid Of Carpenter Bees

If you currently have a carpenter bee infestation, the time to treat is today. Follow these guidelines to Get Rid of Carpenter Bees safely.

Carpenter bees are a beneficial insect but they are also destructive to wooden structures. Female Carpenter Bees drill holes into any wooden structure they can find in order to lay their eggs. This article details the best ways to identify carpenter bees, prevent infestations, and stop them from doing further damage to your home.

How To Identify A Carpenter Bee

Carpenter Bees look similar to 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, compared to the Bumble Bee. Bumble Bees are not a wood boring insect. You’re more likely to find them sitting on flowers in the yard. They are highly beneficial and we suggest leaving them to tend to pollination.

Carpenter Bees are commonly found in the spring. They hover around eaves, porch rails, and under decks and any other unpainted wood around your home. Sometimes carpenter bees are called "wood bees" because they bore into 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, but are capable of drilling and creating tunnels in seasoned hardwoods, softwoods, and decaying woods. Frass is the result of already damaged wood. It looks like sawdust around the drilling areas.

Female carpenter bees bore channels (also known as a main corridor in wood). The damaged area will be 6" to as long as 4 feet wide. The female lays her eggs in areas called "galleries" or "cells". She deposits eggs into these galleries and brings feeds them with a mass of pollen for the newly larvae to feed. She then seals them off to ensure their development before she repeats the next egg process. This is one of the reasons it can be so hard to get rid of carpenter bees.

carpenter bees can make perfectly round holes

Carpenter bee frass
Carpenter Bee Frass

How To Get Rid Of Carpenter Bees (3 Steps)

1. Spray A Residual Insecticide to Kill Carpenter Bees

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

Their holes are usually located on the underside of wood surfaces, We recommend spraying twice during the spring months at intervals of 3-4 weeks to most efficiently prevent carpenter bee damage.

When protected from the elements like rain, residual insecticides 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

You may need to repeat carpenter bee treatments more than twice during the spring. 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 nests, holes or entry points.

2. Use Dust In Carpenter Bee Nests

To get rid of an active Carpenter Bee infestation, apply Tempo Dust in every carpenter bee hole that you find. Use a recommended duster such as the JT Eaton Hand Bellow Duster

Although the initial damage to wood appears as a small hole, 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. These chambers serve as egg nests. She deposits eggs. Brings in food, and then seals off the area to ensure the egg's development.

Carpenter Bee entering hole
Carpenter Bee entering hole

3. Plug 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 the entrances with plugs, cork, putty, or a caulking compound. We suggest sealing the holes with wood putty since you can paint over the wood after the bees are removed. We also carry Carpenter Bee Blocker Kits that are made of stainless steel screens with installation tools.
  • If you plug up the entrances too early, they may chew new openings in other locations.
  • Spray carpenter bee nests early in the season (Jan, Feb, etc) to prevent further boring. ou can prevent carpenter bee infestations if you tackle the situation early
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 such as, Best Bee Trap or Citrus Carpenter Bee Repellent

Carpenter bee traps are designed to attract and trap the bees. If you have an existing infestation, hang the trap 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

Successfully preventing carpenter bees is determined by the time of year. You can prevent carpenter bee infestations if you tackle the situation early in the season.

  • Carpenter bees prefer to bore holes 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 before spring. Sealing and caulking these cracks and crevices will leads to proper carpenter bee prevention. 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 another a hole to exit. To make sealing easier, we recommend Carpenter Bee Blocker Kits that have stainless steel screens that fit in carpenter bee holes.
  • Carpenter Bee nests are often reused from the previous season. Caulk these holes in the fall, after bees have emerged. Our top recommendation is the Carpenter Bee Blocker Kits.
  • Spray the unfinished wood in these vulnerable areas (under rail sidings, under decks, around window sills, etc.) with the recommended residual insecticides.
  • Spray unfinished wood in vulnerable areas (under rail sidings, under decks, around window sills, etc.) with recommended residual insecticides.
  • The best time to spray is springtime.
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)

Written by our resident pest control expert Ken Martin.

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.

Written by our resident pest control expert Ken Martin.