Carpenter Bees – Get Rid Of Those Pesky Buggers
One day I was sitting on my front stoop, and noticed a pile of fresh sawdust beneath a perfectly round hole in the trim around my garage window. “Honey, you drill a hole out here for some reason?” I called to my husband. “Nope”, he hollered back, and we both took a closer look to try and figure out what was going on. Why would somebody drill a hole in our window frame? It just didn’t make sense. We scratched our heads, and my husband filled the hole with wood putty, painted it, and forgot about it. Be darn if that hole, with its mound of sawdust, didn’t reappear in the next few days. This time we just kept watching and lo and behold, found out that hole hadn’t been made with a drill and a bit. No, that hole had been drilled by a bee! A Carpenter Bee in fact. A what? I had never heard of these industrious little pests before.
But in the following weeks we kept finding these little, exact same size, perfectly drilled holes everywhere-from the house trim…to the deck-from the stucco trim at the front door…to the window boxes out back. In fact, one day I was preparing the flower boxes for spring planting. I stuck my little shovel in the dirt of one box only to be attacked by a swarm of angry carpenter bees. They had drilled by the bottom of the window box and set up a huge hive under last season’s dried out dirt! already though I only truly got one small sting it scared me half to death and I don’t mind telling you – it made my skin crawl! Okay. Now this was war. First I had to find out a little more about my enemy.
Carpenter Bees sort of look like regular bumble bees, except they have black shiny undersides. Though the males can buzz around being aggressive and territorial, only the girls can sting. Carpenter Bees burrow in to wood and form long tunnels with a nest or hive at the end. Sometimes the tunnels connect. Unlike termites, they don’t truly eat the wood, although sometimes they use bits to form “walls” inside of their nests or hives. The initial damage may seem shallow, since they tunnel near the surface. But left unchecked, like termites, they can do important damage to your home over time. Their expanding network of tunnels and nests can seriously damage the strength and turn up of the wood in your home. And since they like to return to where they were born, to copy, left unchecked for several seasons, your home could be under siege from multiple generations of Carpenter Bees that return to your place for their annual Carpenter Bee family reunion.
Kill those Pesky Carpenter Bees and Keep them from Coming Back: Here’s how.
Locate and Plug all the entrance holes with a rubbery kind of Caulking, (not wood putty).
An interesting fact about Carpenter Bees-they’re not that smart. If you plug up the entrance to the tunnel/nest, they won’t already try to get out. They’ll just stay in there and die ultimately. However their uncle bee might try to tunnel back in. Which is why you use rubbery or silicone caulking. Remember the story about the garage window above? Well, we discovered they can burrow right by wood putty–duh-it hardens like wood and they can drill right by it. Basically, if you can sand it don’t use it. But they hate rubbery caulking. The texture doesn’t allow them to tunnel by. In extreme situations you might have to cut out the damaged piece and replace it. In any case always paint back over with several coats of a good enamel paint-they hate enamel, but like water based latex. With this method, you won’t really need any pesticide. But when we do this we always have a can of insecticide around to deal with any bees that might buzz around outside the nest.
If you find a Nest use a Potent Bee, Hornet and Wasp Spray.
If you know you’re going to be attacking a big nest it’s best to take adequate precautions. Early evening is a good time to make a sneak attack, as most of them will be back at the nest and they’re a little slower and mellowed out around this time. Bee happy hour I guess. Cover yourself as much as possible, (long sleeves, long pants, closed shoes, etc.) I’d use one of those disposable confront masks to be on the safe side. It will be good protection against bees and fumes from the spray. Have at the minimum 2 cans of a strong Bee, Hornet and Wasp pesticide handy. Spray right into the hole/tunnel or saturate the nest as much as possible. You’ll probably get a swarm of very disturbed Carpenter Bees flying out so have can in hand and spray till nothing is left buzzing or moving. Wait an hour or so, then go survey the damage and sweep up the dead bodies. The next day, carefully destroy the nest if it is easy to reach. Or plug up the hole just like you did above. I read somewhere that you could vacuum Carpenter Bees out of the nest. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t try this with my household vacuum. That sounds like something definitely left to professionals.
The best way to Keep Carpenter Bees Away is to continue any Wood around the Exterior of your home with Quality Paint.
When your exterior paint is thin, worn or chipping or latex, you are leaving yourself unprotected to greedy Carpenter Bees in addition as decreasing the market value of your home and other homes on your street. A little maintenance effort will go a long way. Protect yourself, protect your home.
Chase Carpenter Bees out of your Trees.
Carpenter Bee infestation can damage and already kill your trees. Fortunately the time of action to get rid of them is fairly easy. Buy a good desiccant dust. This is a powder that destroys the outer skeleton of the insect and then literally dries them up until they die. It is good to use here because it won’t hurt your tree. Fill the tunnel hole liberally with dust. Then plug the hole with a tapered a cork, to keep in the dust and keep out bugs for years. You’ll notice any new holes because they won’t be corked. It will make it easier to clarify and treat any new tunnels. Then be sure to spray the tree trunks with a concentrated insect repellent. That should do the job.
Carpenter Bees are, fortunately, not that complicated to get rid of. And though they are a nuisance, they are less likely to sting you than bumble bees. Plus they do some good, as they are great pollinators, especially of open faced flowers. But if they start trying to eat my house or my trees…they are going down.