You might have been able to imagine what harms can be caused by carpenter bees—as its name suggest. Different from other families of bees which prefer open spaces and organic matters to build the nests around, carpenter bees dig a hole—or worse, a tunnel inside your wood trims and porches. Hence, this species of bees is different from other kinds of bees in that carpenter bees do not live in hives. Instead, they may drill several holes along whatever woods they might find, such as benches, fences, wood trims, and porches. Pollinator bees might be beneficial for humans and wildlife, yet carpenter bees drilling holes into your house should be aware of and eliminate before they cause more severe damages to the structure of the house, especially during fall, when their offspring come out of the nests, drilling the holes of their own.
Identifying carpenter bee infestation
To make sure you indeed have carpenter bee infestation, you might need to pay attention to some signs these critters may leave behind, such as:
- A half-inch holes on any wooden structures, such as a porch, wood trims, furniture arms, and any other wood-based materials. There can be a single or more than one holes in the suspected areas, which is usually trimmed almost perfectly.
- Sawdust under the holes made. This sawdust cannot be easily removed since it tends to reappear every day, as carpenter bees keep drilling their nests. Pay attention to some left sawdust around the half-inch holes the bees have made.
- Droppings, which are whitish and located around the dug holes.
- Male carpenter bees wandering around the holes, coming in and out.
- Drilling sound from inside the dug holes.
How to kill carpenter bees
Carpenter bees are in fact a great pollinator, and wild plants require this animal. However, this family of bee can cause severe damages when infesting houses and other wooden buildings. Starting from a half-inch hole, the female living inside the nest keeps digging the tunnel inside any wood foundation the nest is located. Eventually, this will cause major problems, especially if the infestation is severe and large. Because of this, some homeowners have no choice other than killing the critters to prevent worse infestation. There are some methods used to kill carpenter bees, such as:
Trapping them inside the nest and spraying pesticides into it.
Clogging the bees inside their built nest can be done using powdered pesticides sprayed into the nest. This is done to target female bees drilling the holes through the wood structure. Foam pesticides meant for carpenter bees should be effective. Choose one containing boric acid for maximizing the effects.
Look for the holes made by carpenter bees anywhere around the wood structure and spray the foam pesticide into it. The poisonous chemicals kill the bees and the foam effectively traps the bees inside the nest, eventually leaving them dead.
Using petrol to kill carpenter bees.
If you decide to kill carpenter bees while they are still in their nests, you can spray petrol into it. The function is similar to the foam pesticides and is going to kill the bees inside the nests. However, petrol is harmful when inhaled and flammable. Hence, you need to be cautious when using this remedy to get rid of carpenter bees nesting inside your house structure. Make sure you wear a face mask when spraying it and do not use it around the fire source. Hence, killing carpenter bees making nests on the pile of woods or the wood structure around the fireplace is not a wise decision, since petrol you sprayed might leave a residue which is still flammable.
Spray bees’ burrows with carburetor cleaner or machine lubricant
Carburetor cleaner may not be a gentle product to use in getting rid of carpenter bees infesting the house. However, this product is affordable, easy to find, and has an extension tube for the can, which is effective for reaching the burrows dug by the bees. Hence, it may reach the female bees and destroy the entire colony. WD40 is one of the cleaning product which is often used for this purpose. Use the extension neck for spraying the bee tunnel and let it sit for 20 minutes. Some bees are going to be trapped and die, while the nest cannot be used any longer.
Zapping them with an electric racket.
Male carpenter bees are the workers of the swarms and can be seen outside, coming back and forth the nest, while the female stays inside, digging up the tunnel for nesting. If you prefer not to use any chemical pesticides to kill the swarms, you can give an electric racket a try. This is a temporary solution for a light infestation of carpenter bees. However, if the infestation is getting severe, you will need to take action to get rid of the entire colony, instead of only the wandering male bees.
Making traps for carpenter bees
Since carpenter bees’ nests are located inside a wood structure, it is hard to see how severe the damage it may cause. However, if you spot some holes created around the wood structures, you will need to take immediate actions, before carpenter bees do worse damages to the entire wood pillars and foundation around the house. Trapping carpenter bees have become an effective solution which has been done by various homeowners with carpenter bees digging holes on their house. Some homeowners might think that carpenter bees are very beneficial pollinators for the wild plants. However, considering the damages they may cause, bee infestation in the attic or around some other parts of the house should be taken into account immediately, and trapping is one of the ways of performing this treatment.
What you need to make carpenter bee jar traps:
- A mason jar or two recycled soft drink bottles
- A cubical wooden box in coordinative measurement with the bottle or jar diameter
- A drill
- An eye hook
To install the trap, follow these simple directions:
- Drill a half-inch hole near the top of each side and a half-inch hole on the bottom center of the box.
- If you are using a mason jar, put the jar covering the center hole you previously made. To do this, use a strong compound glue to prevent the jar from falling.
- If you are using a recycled soft drink bottle, cut the bottle in halves and take the upper part of the bottle only. Staple or strong glue the bottle to the bottom of the trap, covering the hole you have made earlier. Remove the cap. Afterward, cut another bottle into two parts, making sure that the upper part is 1.5 times longer than the first cut one. Place the second cut bottleneck onto the first one. Staple on the same spots. Do not remove the cap this time.
- Put the eye hook onto the upper center of the cubical box to hang the trap onto the house construction.
- The trapped bees will go down into the Mason jar or soft drink bottle, yet will not be able to climb back up. With soapy water inside the jar, the bees are likely to drown and eventually die.
- You can make and install several jar traps on suspected areas with high carpenter bee traffic. With the Mason jar version, you will have to replace the jar once in a while, or when it gets too full of bees and other trapped insects. With the soft drink bottle version, you can empty the bottle by removing the bottle cap and let the bees out. However, you have to do this cautiously, making sure you will not get stung by any alive carpenter bees.
- To make the trap work more effectively, add an attractant or bait inside the jar. To kill the bees quicker, in addition, add soapy water to one-third part of the jar or bottle which will cause bees to drown and hence, die faster.
Carpenter bees can be a nuisance. However, they are also beneficial for many kinds of flowering and plants. Hence, do not kill the bees unless it potentially damages your house and surrounding. Preventing the bees from building the nests at all is wiser than having to kill them. Hence, seal off cracks and crevices on woods and add varnish or paint regularly to keep the bees away.