Carpenter bees, aka wood bees, are a common nuisance found in much of the United States. These large bees are seen most often during the spring and summer months, chewing intricate galleries into wood structures and buildings. Their dime-sized, circular tunnels can cause major structural damage over time, and should be dealt with by a pest control professional upon identification. If you’ve ever wondered what the difference is between bumble bees and carpenter bees, how they chew holes, or how to identify an infestation, keep reading!
Wood Bee Entomology
Wood bees and bumble bees are somewhat similar in color, but wood bees are significantly larger, around an inch long. Wood bees also have a relatively hairless, smooth abdomen, while bumble bees are much hairier. Their behavioral patterns are also quite different. Compared to a bumble bee’s hive and social system, carpenter bees are solitary, spending most of their time excavating spaces in wood alone. Female carpenter bees can sting and do most of the tunneling activity, while males cannot sting, and can often be seen flying around erratically to ward off predators.
The female bee will bore into the wood to a desired depth, then turn 90 degrees and excavate a longer tunnel. She doesn’t eat the wood, but chews it into a sawdust. The first inch alone can take about a week, making the process fairly slow-going. That being said, bees will sometimes add onto existing tunnels, creating a complex network of galleries. After completing the tunnels, the female will lay 6-8 eggs at the farthest point, in individual cells. Within weeks, the eggs will hatch, leaving the newborns several weeks before they hibernate and begin the process again in the springtime.
Identifying A Wood Bee Infestation
Wood bees are extremely dependent on manmade structures. They generally tend to tunnel on the sunny side of structures, and prefer exposed, unpainted, soft wood, such as that found in sheds, porches, outdoor furniture, telephone poles, dead tree limbs, decking, railings, eaves, wood shingles, etc. They often prefer wood with visible perforations, such as nail holes and saw cuts. Thus, smooth, painted, and stained wood can sometimes deter carpenter bees, but don’t count on it! Some bees are more indiscriminate than others.
Identifying an infestation begins with being aware of bee activity on your property. If you notice bees flying around a certain spot, even if you don’t visibly see a hole, it may be a good idea to examine the area more closely. You may be able to hear the sound of the bees chewing the wood, or see the leftover “sawdust” on the ground. Bees may bore straight up from the underside of the wood, making their holes difficult to find. If you notice any signs of an infestation, contact Black Diamond as soon as possible.
Black Diamond’s experienced pest control team will provide you with a thorough evaluation of any carpenter bee activity on your property. Not only will you get helpful suggestions to help you avoid future wood bee infestations, but the team will also eliminate any current carpenter bee activity. For additional information, or to schedule a free carpenter bee assessment, call 877-DEAD-BUG today.