Carpenter bees are seasonal insects. The carpenter bee season initiation date depends on which state you reside. For those in the State of Indiana, carpenter bee season starts in the Month of March. It continues right through the summer and the beginning of the fall. In most instances, carpenter bee season in Indiana is over by the end of October; however, it is possible to observe a few stragglers here and there in the beginning of November. Continue reading to learn more about carpenter bees.

Eastern Carpenter Bee - Xylocopa virginica, Leesylvania State Park, Woodbridge, Virginia
photo by Judy Gallagher on flickr

What are Carpenter Bees?

The carpenter bee is so named because of the insect’s unique nesting behavior. These bees burrow into various types of plant material that is relatively hard – such as bamboo or even dead wood. These creatures were first identified in 1802 by a French entomologist named Pierre Andre Latreille. He named them after the Ancient-based Greek name that translates to “Wood-Cutter”. These bees engage in the excavating of holes in wood so that they may raise their young.

What Types of Wood are Preferred by Carpenter Bees?

On the most part, carpenter bees prefer weathered wood that is unpainted and untreated. They are fond of pine, redwood, cypress, and even cedar.

Carpenter Bees commonly create nests in rafters, decks, eaves, outdoor wood furniture, fascia boards, porches, siding, and wooden shake roofs.

While they are less likely to burrow into painted wood or wood that has been pressure-treated, it is not impossible for this to occur.

What Attracts Carpenter Bees?

Carpenter bees are attracted to a wide assortment of flowers. They are also attracted to wood that has not been treated. This includes the wood used on sheds, the siding of a home, fences, porches, decks, and other wood-created products. Carpenter bees are also attracted to sugar. A prime example is nectar, which they utilize for energy.

carpenter bee
Daniel Schwen, CC BY-SA Wikimedia

Do Carpenter Bees Sting?

If left alone, carpenter bees are not an aggressive species. Male carpenter bees do not possess a stinger; however, they will start to buzz and dart around in an aggressive manner as a threatening display if they feel as if they are being threatened.

Female carpenter bees do possess a stinger that includes venom. The females are capable of stinging and will sting if provoked. Additionally, it is possible for a female to sting more than one time.

How Do You Treat a Carpenter Bee Sting?

If you are stung by a carpenter bee, venom – and only venom – is injected into the skin. There will be no stinger left behind in the skin. You must clean the area with soap and lukewarm water. Pat the area dry. You may use a cold pack to reduce and soothe the inflammation that occurs.

Taking Tylenol or Ibuprofen for pain will help.

Additionally, you may apply a type of antihistamine cream directly to the area where the sting occurred in order to reduce inflammation. If more than one sting occurs, medical assistance is advised.

What Are the Signs of a Bee Allergy?

In most instances a bee sting only results in discomfort for a short period of time; however, if one has an allergic reaction to a bee sting, it quickly transitions into a medical emergency. The signs of this type of allergy include problems breathing, tongue swelling, dizziness, nausea, loss of consciousness, and even the possible development of a rash or redness on the skin. If this happens, follow the steps outlined below:

  1. Call 911
  2. Administer an EpiPen, if available
  3. Keep the person calm, warm, and comfortable
  4. Monitor vital signs
  5. If the person starts going into shock, roll them on their back and elevate the feet about the heart
  6. Administer CPR if it becomes necessary
  7. Apply hydrocortisone cream and/or have the person take an allergy pill (if they may do so safely)

Do Carpenter Bees Damage Your Home?

Yes, carpenter bees have been determined to be quite destructive to homes. When they burrow into the wood of the home, it weakens the structure.

The weakening is not immediate but over time.

Eventually – depending on the severity of the infestation, carpenter bees can do quite a lot of damage. The frame of the home may start to become warped. When warping occurs, the floors may start to shrink. The walls inside of the home may start to bulge. Finally, the ceilings may also start to dip.

Carpenter bee infestations cause significant damage to homes. If you have an infestation, it must be dealt with immediately.

Essential Oils that repel Carpenter Bees

What Repels Carpenter Bees?

It has been established that carpenter bees are highly sensitive to certain scents in and around their nests. If you are interested in eliminating an infestation, it is imperative that you learn this information. You may use a wide assortment of essential oils.

The most effective essential oil to repel carpenter bees include lemon, peppermint, and tea tree.

These particular scents will become unbearable to the carpenter bees. In a short amount of time, the bees will relocate and the infestation will be eliminated.

Should You Fill Holes Carpenter Bees Leave Behind?

Yes, if you had a carpenter bee infestation and the infestation is gone, you should immediately fill the holes that were left behind. Use aluminum foil, caulk, steel wool, wood glue, and similar items.

Once the hole has been completely filled, you should then place paint over the area. Not only will this prevent a recurring infestation, but the paint will deter the carpenter bees from returning to create a new nest.

Do Carpenter Bees Have Natural Predators?

Yes, carpenter bees have several natural predators. These include bee-eater birds, woodpeckers, and shrikes. Additionally, badgers, predatory flies, and mantises are also considered to be natural predators of carpenter bees.

photo by Ajay Suresh on flickr

Does WD40 Work on Killing Carpenter Bees?

Yes, WD40 is a petroleum-based product that is sold for the purpose of lubrication and displacing water that has the capability of killing bees. This is because of the fact that it is very toxic to the bees. There is a danger in using this method, though. If you attempt to spray it in the holes where the carpenter bees have nested, they may attempt to escape – putting you at direct risk of being stung by the female bees that are present.

How Many Carpenter Bees Live in a Nest?

In most instances, there are 10 or fewer carpenter bees contained within a nest. This is the complete opposite of highly social bees – like honey bees – who may have a significantly large amount of bees within one nest. This low population makes it a bit easier to eliminate infestations.

It is not advised that you handle an infestation on your own.

This is mostly due to the fact that if the female bees become aggressive, they could sting you and they sting more than once – injecting a potentially harmful venom directly into the skin. This will result in a medical emergency if you are allergic to bees.

Contact Us Today

If you have a carpenter bee infestation, we here at All Pest can assist you! Our technicians are highly educated and skilled in all pest control types, habitats, and behaviors. We will use the quickest means necessary to eradicate the infestation. We will then be able to provide you with tips on how to avoid a new carpenter bee infestation. Spring has sprung and carpenter bee populations are on the rise. While it is true that they are significant to the natural functions of our world, it is also true that they are devastating to structures. Contact us now by calling: 765-259-0043