18 Ways to Get Rid of Carpenter Bees (Wood Bees) Without Killing Them

The warm sunshine, flowers blooming, buzzing of bees, spring is here indeed! However, the buzz of bees is not always a pleasant sound; especially it is coming from inside your house. Yes, wood boring bees are notorious for drilling holes in wooden furniture and damaging it. Read on to know all about them and the ways to get rid of carpenter bees infestation:

Identifying Carpenter Bees

Carpenter bees, also known as wood bees because of their diet and choice of habitat are large black bees that look very similar to bumble bees. These bees have a habit of drilling holes into the wood and building galleries to breed and rear their young ones. Carpenter bees are typically ½” to 1” with six legs, two sets of wings, a head, a thorax and an abdomen. Their fuzzy yellow bodies is often mistaken for a bumble bee, however, the resemblance ends there, for the carpenter bees have shiny hairless, black rear. Males also have two distinctive markings on their forehead.

Read here – Life Span of Different Types of Bees

How to Control Carpenter Bees

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Interesting Facts about Carpenter Bees

Carpenter bees are notorious creatures known for making holes in wood and damaging the wooden shakes, deck, outdoor furniture. The bees belong to the genus Xlyocopa and are generally very docile, shy creature until otherwise instigated. Listed below are some of the interesting facts about carpenter bees that will help you understand them better:

  • Only female carpenter bees build the nest, they drill nickel sized holes in the furniture to rear their children
  • Males put on the “tough guy” act and are often aggressive. However, they lack the stingers and hence incapable of causing real damage
  • Carpenter bees hibernate during the long winter months. During spring, the male bees go around looking for food while females prepare the nesting ground
  • Male bees die almost immediately after mating; even the female bees die after fertilizing the eggs and sealing the larvae.
  • Carpenter bees do not live in colonies; they’re vagabonds who build individual nests to raise their young ones.

Signs of a Bee Infestation

With over 400 different types of bees in America alone, it becomes a difficult to identify exactly what you’re dealing with when an infestation happens. The fact that carpenter bees look a lot like your average bumble bee doesn’t make matters any easier. Check out these tell-tale signs that help you recognise a carpenter bee infestation.

  • Carpenter bees and quite large and have hairless shiny black bodies. Males ave white stripes on their forehead while females have stingers
  • The small nickel sized holes perfectly drilled into the wood is a sure sign of the bee infestation
  • You can actually hear faint chewing sounds inside the wood.
  • Wood shavings and sawdust in and around the furniture
  • Mostly a male bee can be seen hovering outside the hole while the female is working inside.

The Difference between Carpenter Bees and Bumble Bees

The buzz of bees around springtime though pleasant to the ears can also bring bad news for the property owners. Honey bees, bumble bees, carpenter bees are some of the creatures that can infest your property and expand their breed. Now, blame it on the similar color or build, but bumble bees and carpenter bees are often mistaken for another. On closer observation you can notice the differences that separate the two types. While bumble bees have hairy abdomen a carpenter bee has a hairless and shiny rear. Also, carpenter bees are solitary unlike others that live in colonies. They nest in and around remote corners and crannies of the property, whereas bumblebees build their hives on the ground.

Difference between Carpenter Bees and Bumble Bees

How to Getting Rid of Carpenter Bees

Carpenter bees are docile and very shy creatures that choose remote corners of the house, however when provoked the female bees can sting you really hard. Not to mention the damage they cause to anything wooden that lies around the property, from doors to window sills, ceilings and even floorboards, these bees are everywhere! Therefore, it is important that you take immediate action once you notice the subtle signs of an infestation discussed above. Mentioned below are some of the most effective solutions that you can apply.

Natural Remedies – How To Deter Wood Bees?

1. Almond Oil

Almond oil is a common household item that you can find in almost every kitchen. Very mild and eco-friendly, almond oil works wonderfully in driving out the bees naturally without killing them, a smart pest control remedy for homemakers. All you have to do is pour some drop of the oil inside the small holes and gaps on the wooden surface. Carpenter bees cannot tolerate the smell of almond oil and will hence try to get away from the area immediately. Use a flashlight to check for any signs of infestation after about 3-4 weeks. Repeat the process if the bees return.

2. Boric Acid Powder

Boric acid usually works well on exterminating all kinds of insects and pests, carpenter bees are no different. By sprinkling a generous amount of boric acid into the holes drilled by the bees you not only exterminate the existing pests but also destroy the larvae that are nesting inside the cells. This puts an effective stop to any future infestation cases and has an 86% success rate in curbing the infestation. Be careful when handling the boric acid solution as it is highly acidic and can burn the skin. Wear gloves and cover your nose with a cloth to protect your face from rashes and allergic reactions.

3. Cover the Holes

This is by far the easiest and most obvious solutions to deal with bees. Patch up the holes with chalk or putty and trap the carpenter bees in their own nests until they suffocate and die. You can even use wool for plugging in the holes and covering the only exit point for the bees. Another change in décor that would be effective for curbing in infestation would be to install vinyl or aluminium sidings in your home. As these materials are non-wooden, they are not under threat of being destroyed by carpenter bees.

4. Natural Bait

Mixing 1/3 cup of powdered sugar with 2/3 cup of boric acid makes the perfect bait for bringing out the bees and then driving them away. You can even use kerosene oil, maple syrup, cinnamon, mortar and pestle to prepare your own homemade non-toxic baits and get rid of the carpenter bees without harming them in any way. Remember to wear gloves when you put the baits near the infested areas. Keep your face covered and wear protection gloves to reduce the risk of rashes and infections.

5. Citrus Spray

Citrus fruits and compounds such as lemon and vinegar are rich in Vitamin C and hence fatal for insects and bees. Prepare a mixture of citrus fruits such as grapefruits or oranges and boil it in water until the mixture is reduced to about one-thirds its original volume. Pour this solution in a bottle and spray it on and around the infested area. The citrus oils are known for repelling even the stubbornness of pests and keeping them away from the property for a long time. The effect of the solution wears off in a few weeks and has to be re-applied regularly for long-term effects.

6. Diatomaceous earth

Diatomaceous earth is readily available in any stationery store and is known for repelling insects and pests of all kinds. The earth has fossilized remains of diatoms, an effective treatment for killing the carpenter bees and destroying their nesting grounds. Even though the mixture is organic it might cause rashes and allergic reactions when in direct contact with human skin. Wear gloves as a precautionary measure and kill the gaps and holes with this diatomaceous earth. The diatoms or microorganisms destroy the exoskeleton of the insects and bees, exterminating them.

7. Natural Oils

Natural oils have always been effective in pest control, the strong smell and essence of these compounds drive the insects away and bees are no different. Natural oils such as teatree oils, jojoba oil, citronella oil, lavender, pennyroyal and thyme are popular ingredients that if mixed in the right proportion can help you get rid of carpenter bees. Moreover, these organic oils are eco-friendly and have no ill-effects on the nearby surroundings and its inhabitants. Spray the mixture on and near the infested grounds, its effect wear away in a week so you’ll have to re-apply it.

8. Pyrethrum Spray

Pyrethrins are natural insecticides, they are organic compounds extracted from the chrysanthemum flowers. All you have to do is spray the solution in and around the nesting ground and wait for some time. The pyrethrum spray has a lot of toxins that disrupt the nerves and brain function of the bees ultimately killing them. The spray is absolutely safe to use and has no side-effects, its effect wears away after a week. You can also prepare a natural spray of garlic and white vinegar to spray around the holes once or twice.

9. Hardwood

Carpenter bees usually infest softwood as it is easier to drill holes in them. Cedar, douglas fir, pine, redwood, spruce and yew are all examples of softwood that is usually used for construction. By replacing the softwood with hardwood such as mahogany, maple, oak and teak, you can reduce the risk of an infestation considerably. This is because carpenter bees avoid hardwood due to its complex structure. Also, ensure that the wooden items around the property have a coat of paint or polish as treated lumber repels the bees away.

10. Excessive Noise

Killing the bees is always not the smartest option out there. For starters, it is cruel and secondly disposing off the dead bees is nasty business. You can easily repel/kill the bees without having to kill them. Bees or any insect for that matter have a weakness for loud noise, they have a low hearing range and therefore are agitated when you use ultrasonic sound waves to get rid of them. You can even play loud music or attach a speaker near the nesting ground of the wood bees to scare them away.

Chemical Solutions – How to Exterminate Wood Bees?

How To Deter Wood Bees

11. Carpenter Bee Baits

Bee baits comprise of techniques that lure the carpenter bees out of their holes out in the open. These baits are often used not for killing the bees but just to drive them out of their hiding place and out in the open. As carpenter bees are found in the cracks and crevices of the property, it is very difficult to fish them out manually. Using baits such as chemical solutions, hydrogen peroxide, boric acid or borax works well here.

12. Carpenter Bee Traps

Carpenter bee traps in the market are another smart way of curbing the infestation. These bee traps are also used by professionals to capture the pests and then rehabilitate them elsewhere. Unlike other bees, carpenter bees prefer staying and nesting indoors and hence an immediate danger for the members of the household. You can even consult the local bee farm and call in beeexperts who can take them away.

13. Insecticides

Professional pest control services often use specific pesticides and insecticides that focus on eliminating the carpenter bees without harming the environment. Spraying a generous amount of these chemicals inside the holes and on the nesting grounds effectively kills them almost instantly.  These insecticides, though seemingly harmless can cause severe allergic reactions to some people. It is best that you remove yourself from the pest control site for a few hours when the operation is still under way.

Bee Extermination Solution

Using toxic or chemical bee extermination solutions is probably the last resort when all else fails to curb their population. Avoid wood treatment solutions though as the bees don’t eat wood and hence might not be affected by it. Gasoline, petrol, kerosene are some of the toxic chemicals that carpenter bees abhor and hence can be used for getting rid of them.

14. Paint

Carpenter bees don’t eat wood, they only drill holes through them to build their nests and lay eggs. They find it easier to make holes in unpolished or unpainted wooden objects such as doors, window sills, and railings. Painting the wooden outdoor surfaces is a great way to drive the carpenter bees away. The strong smell of paint repels all insects such as termites and bees to keep from destroying the quality and sturdiness of the wood. You can even use petrol or diesel to get rid of the pests.

15. Bee Barriers

Bee barriers are used for trapping the carpenter bees inside their holes. As the bees do not make hives outside and prefer drilling lanes inside woods for nesting, the barriers are an effective way to put a stop to their breeding. You can use wool, metal coverings, putty, chalk or cement to seal up the holes. Professional pest control services apply special chemicals as barriers that last longer and are far more effective than the simple everyday items.

16. Bee Bait Gels

Using bee bait gels or sticky solutions is also an immediate solution for killing the carpenter bees. Applying a bit of the solution inside the holes and around the corners will immediately drive the bees out and kill them. The baits are toxic and hence must be handled with care. Keep away, trust a professional to do the job. Or, if you want to do it, wear proper protection gear before using the bait. These bee baits are available over the counter and are very affordable.

17. Vacuum Cleaner

Using a vacuum cleaner for getting rid of wood boring bees is perhaps one of the best ways of going about it. It works especially well if the carpenter bee nesting ground is recently constructed. For this, you will have to use the smallest of nozzles and turn the speed and power setting to its maximum. Put the nozzle in the hole and suck the bees out, it’s that simple! Try doing this in the evening when most carpenter bees are inside their nests.

18. Bug Sprays

Bug sprays are available in almost any stationery store or local supermarket. However, these over the counter products work only on mild infestation cases. Handle with care, the bug sprays contain harmful chemicals that though fatal for the carpenter bees can also cause considerable damage to the inhabitants of the house.

Why are Carpenter Bees So Dangerous?

  • Carpenter bees drill holes in the wood, damaging the furnishings, doors, and floorboards of the house
  • The female bees have stingers and can hurt you if provoked
  • Male bees, on the other hand, are far more aggressive although they cause no real damage
  • The carpenter bees can also sting children and pets causing severe rashes and acute pain
  • Swelling, itching, breathing problems, heart palpitations and other allergic reactions are the severe side-effects of a carpenter bee sting. In such a case consult a doctor immediately.

The Bottom Line

Pest infestation can be an absolute nightmare for any property owner, for they cause nothing but disease and destruction. Carpenter bees can cause immense destruction and loss to the property if left to themselves. Consider the size, scale, and severity of the infestation before resorting to any of the methods mentioned above.
Why leave carpenter bees breed in and around your living spaces? We’ve tried to cover information about these bees to demystify them, and brought to you some natural and chemical origin home remedies that you can use to make them flee.

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