How to Kill, Treat, and Prevent Carpenter bees

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The large bluish black carpenter bee is out in full force every spring, seeking unprotected wood to nest in. Here's how to kill these insect pests, treat existing carpenter bee infestations, and prevent carpenter bee damage in the first place.

Things You'll Need

  • Dust applicator
  • Insecticide
  • Ladder
  • Paint and painting supplies
  • Learn the facts about Carpenter bees. The solitary, large bumble-bee sized, carpenter bee is easy to identify with their shiny bluish black abdomens and from the holes they drill into wood surfaces. The presence of carpenter bees flying around patios and wood structures will make many people look for bee exterminators, but there are ways to control carpenter bees without having to pay an exterminator. The female bees emerge after a winters sleep in one of their wood cavities, to mate and find a suitable nesting site. The carpenter bee prefers softer wood that is unpainted, such as pine, cedar, and fir, but they will attack hardwood items such as tool handles. Staining wood will not deter them nor will spray-on Borate treatments as they do not actually eat the wood. Carpenter bees are most active in the early spring and summer and can do serious damage to wood structures as their cavities can be several inches to a few feet long. The females will reuse last years holes and elongate them to hold bigger broods thus wood with carpenter bee damage will get weaker and weaker as more of it is removed. Carpenter bee holes also open up the wood to moisture and fungus damage that will attract other pests and the embedded grubs will attract woodpeckers that will attack the wood.

  • Treat Carpenter bee nests with the correct insecticides for carpenter bee control. Killing the adult bees is no harder than killing any other flying insects. Any wasp spray such as Wasp Freeze, will kill them, but this is not the answer to a carpenter bee infestation. By the time the adult bees are seen in any numbers they will have already made and provisioned several brood cavities. The grubs in these cavities will have enough food to develop into the next generation of adults and start the cycle again. It is necessary to poison the carpenter bee nests so not only the adults but the grubs are killed also. Insecticide dusts are best for this because the adult carpenter bees will not recognize the poison and be repelled by it. They will repeatedly travel through the dust and spread it to each brood cell they make thus wiping out two generations. Some bee extermination products for treating the holes are: Drione, Delta dust, Borid, and Carbaryl(Sevin)dust. A dust applicator with a long tube style spout to inject the dust into the holes, will be needed. Leave the treated holes open for a few days so the carpenter bees will spread the insecticides. Then close up the holes with caulk, putty, or a cork before painting. Be sure to wear protective gear including goggles when working with poisons and follow all precautions. Carpenter bee extermination is an ongoing process and it will be necessary to check repeatedly every year for new carpenter bee nests to treat. Be sure to also check in the fall for any new holes and treat them with an insecticide before closing them up.

  • Use Carpenter bee traps to kill carpenter bee adults. Another method for killing the adult carpenter bees and lowering the population count, is the use of Carpenter bee traps. In order for these to have the maximum effect they should be in place before the bees become active and left up over the spring and summer season. First fill or cover all the existing holes so the bees won't be attracted to them but will enter the traps instead. Existing holes can be covered with screening that is taped in place. Carpenter bee traps consist of wood/plastic pieces that have holes the correct size for the carpenter bees to enter. Some hold poisons to kill the bees or adhesives to trap them. Others simply are built so the carpenter bees cannot get back out and will eventually die. The traps should be emptied on a regular basis so they can hold more bees as needed.

  • Consider carpenter bee prevention as the best answer to the carpenter bee problem. Always use treated lumber for all outdoor wood projects and apply several good coats of high quality enamel paint to all exposed untreated wood. There are water soluble spray products to kill and repel the carpenter bees. Some of these are: Viper, Demon, and Cynoff. The last two are Cypermethrin based and best applied by professional exterminators. All of these have to be reapplied on a regular basis to stay active. Another preventative measure is the covering of exposed fascia boards with aluminum flashing or vinyl siding.
    Lastly below there are links to sites with more information on controlling carpenter bees and links to other articles on pest control. Please rate this article and any others you check out, thank you.
    All contents copyrighted by Aupoet.

Tips & Warnings

  • The female carpenter bees can sting but they are not aggressive like social bees and wasps so you have little to fear from them unless you entrap them.
  • Carpenter bees emit an odor that attracts other carpenter bees so you must close up the holes after killing the bees or more will be attracted to them.
  • Be aware of the dangers of using insecticides and follow all safe guards.

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