If you want to get rid of carpenter bees, do read this information first before you call in the 'bee exterminators'!
You could save yourself unnecessary expense and avoid harming the bees. Also, prevention is better than cure, so take a look at my tips to help prevent future carpenter bee nests.
There are a number of different species of Carpenter Bees, but those most likely to cause you concern, tend to resemble bumble bees. In fact, bumble bees are social - they live in colonies, whereas carpenter bees are solitary.
They usually build nests in unpainted wood; old, rotten wood; or damp, soft wood – these nests are tunnels, in
which larvae are reared. And note, they do not eat the wood, they
merely excavate the tunnels.
Males and females will hibernate in the nest over winter, and emerge the following year. Future generations may expand the size of the nest, creating further tunnels in the wood, and it is these future generations that can weaken the wood if allowed to expand greatly.
It is important to put the situation in perspective – carpenter bees are rarely aggressive and stinging is unlikely to be a problem (only females can sting, but rarely do). They also provide an excellent pollination service, and bees are going through a difficult time just now.
said, avoid wafting and waving your arms around the bees, as this can
encourage them to fly toward you. This will usually be the non-stinging
males, but it can cause unnecessary panic. Males cannot sting or bite.
However, in the USA, some species in particular can cause damage over time, to wooden structures. If the structure is crucial, then unfortunately, and despite them being lovely creatures, it may be necessary to do something about it.
This is always a dilemma for people such as myself who are keen to help bees. However, in the USA where there are species that can genuinely cause damage to wooden structures in homes, I'm afraid I have to take this into account.
Many people are struggling, and bringing up families. I'm not in the business of imposing my values, to the extent that it is damaging to the situations of others.
So, if it is absolutely necessary, then you may need to get rid of them and so information is provided below.
However, I do urge you to read about some real-life reader experiences with carpenter bees you'll find on this page.
1. Firstly, locate the nest if you can. This in itself may put your mind at ease, or it will show you whether or not you need to take urgent action, and where.
2. If you do not know where the nest is:
3. It's quite possible you'll find the nest in an old table leg, or some other item that is not important. If so, you can simply move the table well away from your home, or dispose of it.
4. Once you have located the nest:
Observe the nest over the next few days. The bees will hopefully be repelled and will eventually stop returning. The good news is, you didn't have to harm the bees.
If the risk of structural damage is still too great because the bees are returning, you may have to seal up the hole with caulk. Hopefully, this step will not be necessary.
If you are aware that you live in an area where carpenter bees are present, take action sooner rather than later to prevent problems:
You may find this general page about carpenter bees interesting - it includes details of a query from a visitor to this site, and further advice about getting rid of carpenter bees, as well as some key differences between bumble bees and carpenter bees. With regard to bumble bee nests, they are harmless, and can be left alone, since colonies will decline quite naturally at the end of the season.
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