Carpenter bee drilling holes in wood full of sawdust

One downside to beautifying our homes is the insects that have to make their home in your yard. Some bees nest in the ground or build hives in trees, but carpenter bees prefer to drill holes in the wooden structures of our houses. 

Taking care of these creatures early can save you a lot of grief later when you have to treat the bees and replace the wood that they destroyed. Carpenter bee removal should be done right away when you see signs of an infestation. But even if you don’t see any signs, you should consider prevention tactics to safeguard your wood structures.

How Do You Keep Carpenter Bees Away?

Luckily, carpenter bees don’t cause structural damage to homes very easily. If you let your carpenter bee population grow out of control, though, you might fear for the safety of your wooden structures. 

Preventing carpenter bees from choosing your property to invade can be a difficult task, but there are a couple of easy ways that you can deter them from choosing your home or property to nest on.

  1. First, inspect the exterior of your home and any wood structures located on your property. Any holes found should be filled in with a quality wood filler. Holes found in wooden structures have the potential to attract adult carpenter bees that are looking for a place to nest.
  2. Varnish, stain, or paint any wooden structures on your property to help prevent them from becoming water damaged. Carpenter bees are highly attracted to water-damaged wood.

How Do You Get Rid of Carpenter Bees?

If you already have a carpenter bee infestation, it is best to seek the aid of a licensed professional. Improper carpenter bee control can lead to worse damage and ongoing infestation. Why is DIY carpenter bee control so difficult? Here are a few major reasons:

  • Carpenter bees put an elbow in their tunnels. That makes it difficult to spray insecticides deep enough to get to the bees inside.
  • When a female carpenter bee is sealed in a tunnel, she will have to create a new tunnel to get out. So it is vital to make sure tunnels are vacant before sealing them.
  • When carpenter bees get into a gap in the exterior of a home, it can be extremely difficult to see the entry holes to their tunnels.
  • Carpenter bees expand tunnels year after year. While an initial tunnel created by a carpenter bee may only be about a foot in length, it can be lengthened as new bees come year after year to use old tunnels.

Carpenter bees aren’t just a nuisance, as they can cause a lot of problems with their wood-boring habits. The team at Russell’s Pest Control is committed to keeping you safe from the dangers of pests year-round, carpenter bees included. 

What Do Carpenter Bees Look Like?

Carpenter bees are large, loud bees that like to hover near your head when you’re enjoying the spring sunshine. They might be tricky to differentiate between honey bees and bumblebees at first, but with a little practice, you will be able to tell the difference. Here are three physical signs that the bees around your home are carpenter bees:

  1. Carpenter bees are larger than other bees. They can be anywhere from 1/2” to 1” long.
  2. Their abdomen is shiny and hairless, as opposed to the fuzzy bumblebee. It is also stark black, not yellow and black like a honey bee.
  3. You will often see them flying around up higher, around the roofing or awnings of your home. Bumblebees and honey bees are usually lower to the ground and closer to the flowers.

One tricky thing about identifying carpenter bees is that they are pollinators, too. They will also be found in your flower beds. It’s important to keep other indicators in mind.

Should I Expect Carpenter Bees Around My Tennessee Property?

Yes, probably. Knoxville homeowners will often encounter carpenter bees on their decks. This is because carpenter bees are wood dwellers, so they probably have nests in the deck, the porch rails, or the wooden siding. It is quite unusual for carpenter bees to sting, but they’re still unpleasant and potentially damaging companions. 

Some other locations around your home that get targeted are patios, exterior stairs, fences, and other structures that can become dry and weathered. Those bees will target unpainted and untreated surfaces first so applying a coat of paint can help as a deterrent.

Another thing to keep in mind about carpenter bees is that they are drawn to flowers. Just like all bees, they feed on the nectar in flowers. But flowers are not why they establish themselves on our properties. These bees will come and go from a yard that has lots of flowers in it if they are unable to find a suitable location to create a nest.

When Do Carpenter Bees Become Active?

Carpenter bees become active again once the majority of the winter season is over, the weather begins to warm slightly, and the spring season is just around the corner. In Knoxville, this is usually anywhere between mid-February and April. And If you’re reading this around that time, you should expect to see carpenter bees around your property.

Carpenter bees make individual nests near one another by tunneling into the wood, using the hollow area to lay eggs. They tend to find good nesting places in unpainted outbuildings, or deck boards that are not treated. Every spring they return to their same nests, burrowing ever deeper or wider to accommodate their needs. Their nesting galleries can be very intricate and cause severe damage to the wood they are infesting. With that, woodpeckers love to feed on carpenter bee larvae and can further damage the wood of a house, outbuilding, or boards of a deck trying to reach them.

Because Knoxville season changes are so unpredictable, it’s probably a good time to address any cold weather maintenance projects now before the spring sun wakes up the hibernating insect population. 

Dangers of Carpenter Bees in Knoxville TN

When it comes to carpenter bees, they tend to be more damaging to property than they are a danger to people. Here’s what to know:

  1. Only the female has the ability to sting, but the females are typically pretty docile and they rarely sting on purpose. It is still important to remember that if you are ever stung by a carpenter bee, you should take the same precautions as you would with any other bee sting, especially if you are allergic to its venom.
  2. Even though these stinging insects are not particularly dangerous, they are very damaging. In fact, the damages that carpenter bees can cause can become quite extensive and expensive to repair if they are allowed to continue nesting on your property.
  3. Carpenter bees create perfectly round holes that are about ¼ of an inch in diameter; once inside the wood, they make a turn to create tunnels along the grain of the wood to lay their eggs in. Carpenter bees are solitary, but it is very typical for several females to choose the same area or even the same piece of wood to nest inside of. Over time, this damage can worsen.

Painful stings are the first thing that comes to mind for many people when bees are brought up. Not all bees are out to hurt us, though — many species of bees are quite gentle and are too busy pollinating plants to bother us. 

Instead of building hives with hundreds of bees, the more solitary carpenter bees prefer to bore holes into softwood. The female carpenter bee will lay her eggs in small pockets dug out in her tunnel and guard the area fiercely. In fact, the only time carpenter bees display aggressive behavior is when they believe that their young could be in danger.

Signs of Carpenter Bee Activity

Although carpenter bees are not considered as destructive as termites, they can really do a number on your wooden structures. You may only see a few holes (although a badly infested location may have dozens of holes), but the nests behind those entrances can easily go on for over ten feet through your board or plank! Here are other signs to look out for:

  1. If carpenter bees have decided to take up residence on your property, you will notice large bumblebee-like insects that are black in color flying around your property under or around wooden structures. 
  2. If carpenter bees are nesting on your property you will probably also begin to notice dime-sized holes in wooden outdoor furniture, eaves, wooden trim, wood shingles, and wooden play structures. 
  3. Another seemingly strange sign of a carpenter bee infestation on your Knoxville property is noticing an increase in woodpeckers. Woodpeckers love to dine on the larvae and eggs of carpenter bees, they are attracted to the nest from the sounds that the larvae make and will peck at the nest entrance hole in order to enlarge it and gain access to bees inside. Needless to say, this causes even more damage to the structure that is housing the carpenter bee nest.

So what do carpenter bees consider to be a suitable site for nesting? These bees bore tunnels into dead wood. And, since we build our homes out of dead wood, they can become a victim of carpenter bee damage, especially as the wood of a home ages.

Keep Carpenter Bees Out of Your Property

Carpenter bees are not aggressive, and may not be that dangerous to humans, but they can end up causing a lot of damage to a home. It is important that homeowners understand that DIY options are both dangerous and ineffective, so it is very important for homeowners in Knoxville to call on the experts at Russell’s Pest Control.

We can conduct a free inspection to evaluate the problem, treat it as needed to get the population under control, and give you personalized advice about what to do to keep the carpenter bees at bay in the future.

When you work with Russell’s Pest Control, our bee control experts will come to your property, identify any problem areas, and put into place a plan of action to protect your home and property from being further damaged by these rogue carpenters. Reach out to us today for a free quote!

Back to Bee, Wasp, & Hornet Exterminators – Control – Removal