Carpenter bees are a common warm-weather infestation, first appearing in the springtime months. They are so named because of their preference for wood; the insects choose to burrow tunnels in decks, porches, outdoor furniture, or wooden overhangs of homes. Although they consume nectar, not wood, they do remove small quantities of wood while building their nests.

Carpenter Bee Characteristics

Carpenter bees are black and yellow insects that resemble bumble bees in appearance, but their shiny abdomens distinguish them from their cousins. Males, though territorial, are harmless: only the female bees have stingers. Male bees can be differentiated from females by the white spot on their heads. Adults hatch in late summer, wintering in tunnels, and emerge in the spring to lay eggs. A female bee is generally docile in temperament, and will not sting unless threatened or handled, and she is able to use strong jaws to dig out tunnels and build a nest. There are several signs that a nest is present: the entrance of the tunnel is often visible as a small, circular opening, and sometimes a conal shaped fecal stain appears beneath it. You may even hear them digging the tunnel itself; as they clear wood, carpenter bees make a scraping noise.

Infestation Concerns

Because carpenter bees do not consume wood and their tunnels are generally shallow, they present little risk of structural damage unless permitted to burrow extensively. However, infestation with carpenter bees can present several problems. The presence of the bees can attract predators such as woodpeckers, who can wreak havoc on thin paneling and siding in an attempt to expose the bees’ nests. Further, the bees frequently excrete fecal matter prior to entering their nests, leaving unsightly and difficult-to-remove stains on the surrounding wood. The presence of bee tunnels can also expose the wood to water damage, foster growth of mold and wood-rotting fungi, and attract other invasive species such as carpenter ants. Although the bees themselves do not present a significant risk of stinging or direct damage, their presence can make an infested site vulnerable.

Omaha Carpenter Bee Control and Prevention

Because bees do not consume wood, treatments applied to surrounding wood surfaces are ineffective in eliminating them. Sprays including boric acid, carbaryl, and most other flying insect sprays applied to the nesting tunnels themselves can be a successful deterrent, especially if the tunnel is sealed over after treatment. When spraying insecticide, it is important to remain upwind from the aerosol so that the toxic fumes are not inhaled, and avoid stinging female bees that may emerge to defend the nest. Between seasons, vacated tunnels can be filled with caulk or a dowel to prevent the tunnels from being inhabited again. Covering holes without first treating them with insecticide will not be effective, as bees can simply dig out a new tunnel entrance. Because the tunnels are shallow, sometimes only six inches deep or less, insecticide treatment ensure that adults and offspring are terminated.

Treating wood, though not completely preventative, can pose a mild deterrent to carpenter bees. Paint, sealing varnishes, and primers all make wood more difficult for bees to access. If the infestation is chronic, installing alternative materials for siding may be necessary, but ensuring that any cracks, corners, and splinters are thoroughly sealed and covered can also make the location less appealing.

Ultimately, carpenter bees are an often stubborn nuisance that can put decks, siding, and furniture at risk for damage over time. If home remedies to remove carpenter bees prove unsuccessful, consider contacting professional exterminators to handle your Omaha carpenter bee control . For more information about managing common household infestations, or to reach out to an extermination professional, please contact us.