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Protect Your Home From Carpenter Bees

Learn how to treat your home to prevent carpenter bee damage.

If the exterior of your home is made of wood, chances are you are sharing it with carpenter bees. These bees are large, round, and mostly black. You can differentiate them from fuzzy bumblebees by their shiny abdomen. You may notice one or several of these bees hovering around your home. When they are hovering they are either looking for a place to construct a nest, or guarding an existing nest. When guarding a nest, they are quite territorial, and will actually try to chase intruders from the area. I have been buzzed many times by these bees. Their size and loudness make them pretty scary.

If you see these bees around your home, take a good look at the wood in the area. Check the eaves, trim, fascia, siding, wooden shakes, deck planks and railings, and even wooden outdoor furniture. You may find one or more perfectly round holes, about half an inch in diameter. Carpenter bees get their name because they drill holes in wood for their nests. These round holes are the entrances to the beesí nests. I usually look on the ground for sawdust, and then look up in a straight line from there to find the holes. I have found that they particularly like to drill behind light fixtures affixed to the wood, and other places where the holes are difficult to detect without the telltale sawdust piles.

Getting Rid of Carpenter Bees

The best way to protect your wood from the bees is with paint. If you donít want to hide the beauty of the wood, a stain can help deter carpenter bees, though not as effectively as paint.

Carpenter bees have a few tricks that make it hard to rid your home of them. When they tunnel into the wood, they go straight for about an inch, and then make a 90-degree turn. The tunnel that runs from the turn can be up to six feet long. This makes spraying the holes with aerosol or a hose attachment somewhat ineffective. The spray does not get across the tunnel into the nest area, so the eggs and larvae are protected. There are special sprays available which will work, but you will have to repeat the treatment at least two or three times. You need to be careful when spraying, as the bees will sting to protect the nest. Spray at night if possible to avoid being stung.

If you decide to spray you need to do it in April and May, as this is when they are coming out of hibernation. Spraying with a liquid spray needs to be done about every two weeks, as the pesticide wears off.

 There are some powder or dust pesticides that can be used to treat the nest. They typically come with an applicator that puffs the dust deep into the tunnel. The dust remains active for several months, and kills the larvae before they can mature. This is the best way to get rid of the bees if you can reach all of the holes. Consider hiring a professional to do the spraying, as the chemicals are quite strong.

Dealing With The Damage

After you have sprayed or dusted, the holes need to be plugged to prevent another carpenter bee from re-using the nest. Small corks or short pieces of wooden dowel can be glued in the hole to seal the tunnel after spraying. If the tunneling is very extensive you may need to replace the affected wood.


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