Carpenter Bees

What do carpenter bees look like?

large black carpenter bee in east end long island

Carpenter bees have a stocky, oval shaped body that is black and yellow. Their body is fuzzy except for their smooth hairless abdomen.  They are a fairly large species of bee, and adult workers can grow to between ¼ and 1 inch in length.  Carpenter bees are often mistaken for bumblebees because of their similar appearance. The best way to tell the difference between the two is that carpenter bees lack yellow stripes and bumblebees are stripped.

Carpenter bee behaviors

Carpenter bees are a solitary species of bee and do not live together in large nests; instead, individual bees will create tunnels and nesting areas in pieces or softwood.  Carpenter bees prefer nesting in wood that has not been treated (painted, stained) in any manner. Carpenter bees can be found creating nesting tunnels in sheds, decks, porches, wooden play sets, telephone poles, wooden lawn furniture, and wood roof eaves.

Carpenter bees don’t actually eat the wood when they create their tunnels; they feed on nectar like many other species of bees.  Each female will independently do the work that is needed to take care of her eggs and larvae; however, several females may choose to use the same piece of wood to nest in.

It is common for carpenter bees to use the same galleries year after year or to create new galleries in the same area year after year. Adult carpenter bees will overwinter in their tunnels and will emerge in the spring to feed, create a nesting area, and lay their eggs.

Are carpenter bees dangerous?

Carpenter bees are considered to be dangerous to wooden structures more so than people.  Only the female carpenter bee has a stinger, and they are not particularly aggressive and rarely sting.  The males have no stinger, but are very aggressive and may swarm and buzz loudly around your head to move you away from the nesting area.

Because carpenter bees use the same galleries year after year and multiple carpenter bees will nest in the same piece of wood, over time their tunnels can significantly weaken the structure that they are invading.  Also, woodpeckers like to eat carpenter bee larvae and will peck at and cause damage to the wood that carpenter bees have laid their eggs in.

Can Suburban help with a carpenter bee problem?

Suburban Exterminating provides effective control for carpenter bees and other stinging insects that are causing problems in and around your home.  Visit our home pest control page for details about our available plans or click here to schedule a free estimate.

Carpenter bee prevention tips

Contacting Suburban Exterminating at the first sign of a problem is the best way to avoid carpenter bee problems.  We also recommend painting, staining or adding varnish to any untreated wood and sealing any holes.


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