Carpenter bees, also known as wood bees, are a common nuisance found throughout much of the United States. These large bees are most often seen during the spring and summer months, chewing through intricate galleries in wooden structures and buildings. Their dime-sized circular tunnels can cause significant structural damage over time and should be treated by a pest control professional once identified. If you’ve ever wondered what the difference is between bumblebees and carpenter bees, how they chew holes, or how to identify an infestation, read on!
Wood bee entomology
Wood bees and bumblebees are somewhat similar in color, but wood bees are significantly larger, about an inch long. Wood bees also have a relatively hairless smooth abdomen, while bumblebees are much hairier. Their behavior patterns are also quite different. Compared to the hive and social system of a bumblebee, carpenter bees are solitary and spend most of their time digging holes in the wood alone. Female carpenter bees can sting and do most of the tunneling activity, while males cannot sting and can often be seen flying erratically to ward off predators.
The female bee will drill into the wood to the desired depth, then turn 90 degrees and dig a longer tunnel. She does not eat the wood, but rather chews it into sawdust. Just the first inch can take about a week, which makes the process quite slow. That said, bees sometimes add to existing tunnels, creating a complex network of galleries. After completing the tunnels, the female will lay 6-8 eggs at the furthest point, in individual cells. Within weeks, the eggs will hatch, leaving the newborns for several weeks before they hibernate and begin the process again in the spring.
Identify a Wood Bee Pest
Wood bees rely heavily on man-made structures. They generally tend to tunnel on the sunny side of structures and prefer exposed, unpainted softwood such as that found in sheds, porches, outdoor furniture, telephone poles, dead tree limbs, decks, railings, etc. eaves, wooden shingles, etc. . They often prefer wood with visible perforations, such as nail holes and saw cuts. So 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 see a hole visibly, it might be a good idea to examine the area more closely. You may be able to hear the sound of bees chewing on wood or see leftover “sawdust” on the ground. Bees can drill directly from the bottom of the wood, making it difficult to find their holes. If you notice any signs of infestation, please contact Black Diamond as soon as possible.
Black Diamond’s experienced pest control team will provide you with a thorough assessment of any carpenter bee activity on your property. Not only will you get helpful tips to help you avoid future wood bee infestations, but the kit will also eliminate any current carpenter bee activity. For additional information or to schedule a free carpenter bee assessment, call 877-DEAD-BUG today.