How Do I Know if I Have Carpenter Bees?
Knowing your enemy is perhaps one of the first and most crucial steps to winning a war. The same applies when dealing with carpenter bees or other insects for that matter. Carpenter bees come from the same family as bumblebees. They're larger than honeybees in terms of size but have less yellow hue in the abdomen, especially when compared to bumblebees.
Carpenter bees have more of a shiny color in their back section and tend to nest on flower stems but can also nest in woods. While they do not pose a serious threat to humans given their harmless nature, they can cause some headaches given that they can seriously damage various structures in your home. They're generally solitary bees, which make their nesting habits very different from other types of bees.
A carpenter bee will generally hover or dart around your home around your deck or wooden structures. It will burrow and chip off wood to create a tunnel for its colony and to lay eggs. As a result, carpenter bees can damage and stain your furniture, window, doors, buildings, and fences. They also prefer damp and moist areas within wooden structures.
What Types of Woods do Carpenter Bees Prefer?
Carpenter bees prefer weathered, bare, or unpainted softwoods. As such, painted or pressure-treated woods are less at risk to suffer damage from carpenter bees. This doesn't, however, mean that painted or pressure-treated wood cannot be affected. You can still find carpenter bees nesting on your wood-stained, painted, or pressure weathered, though they can provide some level or repellency than bare wood.
That being said, some types of wood that carpenter bees prefer include:
Where to Look and What to Look For
Like most bees, carpenter bees always emerge in springtime. This is when you'll find them hovering around the decks and in porch rails, looking for a place to drill and create a nest. The main sign of carpenter bees is the active holes in your wooden structures. In most cases, carpenter bees will damage wooden structures from the side and you'll most likely find sharp 90-degree turns after the holes. These are made for laying eggs and to bring nectar and pollen for producing eggs. Some of the common areas to find carpenter bees include eaves, fascia boards, window trim, decks, outdoor furniture, indoor furniture, wooden, siding, and wooden shakes or shingles.
The Kind of Damage that can be Caused by Carpenter Bees
Although carpenter bees are harmless, they can cause serious aesthetic damage to your home. They can drill and stain holes in your wooden structures. In the beginning, the stains may not be much of a bother but can increase with time if you do not get rid of carpenter bees.
How to Get Rid of Carpenter Bees
There are several ways to get rid of carpenter bees and this is principally what this article is about. And it's not just about getting rid of carpenter bees. These measures should also prevent carpenter bees from returning.
Use Natural Citrus Spray
Citrus is one of the best natural ways to get rid of carpenter bees. Like other insects, carpenter bees have a natural loathing to citrus oil and will most likely leave whenever you use citrus spray. You can use various citrus fruits such as lemon, lime, grapefruit, and orange.
Take these peels of these citric fruits, put them in a pot of water and let the mixture boil for some time. Pour the solution in a spray bottle and sprinkle the aroma all over the wooden structures. The refreshing smell of citrus may be so soothing to humans but will repel the carpenter bees away. In other words, carpenter bees cannot stand the smell of the citrus fruit. Keep in mind that spraying citrus will not kill the carpenter bees. However, it will make the bees leave whatever they've built in the structure.
Use Almond Oil
Like citrus, the almond spray is a tried-and-tested natural way of getting rid of carpenter bees. These insects naturally hate the smell of almond oil and will leave the wooden structures as soon as you place the almond oil around the nest or in any visible bee holes. Using almond oil will not only make the bees leave the structures but will also prevent possible future infestations.
Oiling the Carpenter Bees
Several natural oils have chemical properties that can deter carpenter bees and keep them at bay. For instance, you can mix tea tree oil, lavender oil, citronella oil, and jojoba oil in a bowl. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and spray the entire area.
Using natural oils is not only great in refreshing your home but will also keep the carpenter bees away. This is also an organic spray that will cause no harm to your kids and pets, so it can be a great way of getting rid of carpenter bees. It's important to note that most natural oils will work for 3 to 4 months, so this can keep the bees away for quite a while.
Use Garlic, Oil, and Vinegar
A mixture of garlic, cooking oil, and white vinegar can be a great way of getting rid of carpenter bees. You should brew this mixture for two to three days to make the mixture more acidic. Spray this mixture in the holes and around the tunnels and check regularly if it's working. You should keep applying until all the carpenter bees are eradicated.
Use a Physical Bee Trap
While this may seem like a lot of work, you can buy a bee trap and use it to trap these annoying insects. You should place the trap in the infested areas to trap the bees while preventing them from escaping. To work effectively, you should hang the bee trap above the bees' holes so that they can easily enter into the trap.
Use Electronic Paddle Swatter
There are times when carpenter bees are more active and will hover around looking for their holes and places to lay their eggs, burrow, or deposit pollen. This is a perfect opportunity to use your electronic paddle swatter to electrocute the carpenter bees. You have to ensure that the paddle is properly charged to easily electrocute the bees to death.
You should, however, keep in mind that male carpenter bees (with white spots on their heads) are the most likely to be hovering around making annoying buzzing sounds. As such, they're unlikely to sting you but you should be careful not to suffer from uncomfortable shock. For this reason, you should always keep the electronic paddle swatter away from children and pets.
Dust Application of Plugging of the Holes
Although this may require a technician, you can use a dust product to ensure that the current carpenter bees' holes are sealed. This is a great way to eradicate active carpenter bees but may not be enough in eradicating their eggs, which means that your structures will still be infested after a couple of weeks.
Alternatively, you can use products such as putty or caulking compounds to plug or seal the holes so that the bees are unable to return to the nests once they leave. This method can work effectively if done during summer when the carpenter bees have left the nest just before winter. When applying the dust or putty, keep in mind that the bees might sting, so you should be extra cautious and ensure that you're safe at all times.
Even though carpenter bees are harmless to humans, they can cause aesthetic damage to your wooden structures. It's, therefore, not always advisable to let the carpenter bees to attack various parts of your home before taking action. In other words, the best thing to do is to prevent the carpenter bees from nesting in your home in the first place. This is why you should make sure that all the wooden structures in your home are painted or properly varnished.
But if an infestation is already underway, you can use citrus acid, dust application and plugging methods, electronic paddle swatter, or any of the above-described methods to get rid of these very annoying insects.