How Do Carpenter Bees Drill Holes?

If you have ever noticed deep holes in the wood around your home, your deck, your fence or anywhere else where wood is present, you might be dealing with carpenter bees! Although carpenter bees are relatively small in size, they can drill large holes into wood to form their nests. Take the annoying destruction out of the equation, and it’s impressive that carpenter bees can drill holes into solid wood.

In this article, we’ll be breaking down how carpenter bees physically drill holes into wood, and how you can prevent this destruction from happening around your home!

how do carpenter bees drill holes

How Do Carpenter Bees Drill Holes In Wood?

As stated earlier, carpenter bees are a species that bears much resemblance to bumblebees. Their only separating feature is that carpenter bees have bare shining backs, unlike bumblebees that have hairy backs.

Why do carpenter bees drill into the wood instead of creating beehives as most other bees do, you might ask?

Well, they do so for the purpose of creating their nest to lay eggs and the protection of their larvae. This usually happens after pairing and mating between male and female bees which takes place during the winter. When they emerge, the female bee locates a suitable site for the drilling of the hole while the male bee lurks around warding off intruders and providing safety. 

Their favorite kind of wood for creating their home are redwood, cedar, pine or cypress. Varnished or painted wood happens to be a huge turn-off for the, so they usually avoid it, sticking to natural or untreated wood. Once they locate their preferred type of wood, they start biting away at the wood using mandibles that are quite strong. The bee bites at the wood in a circular manner, creating a perfectly round entrance hole that measures up to the diameter of a finger in size.

Keep in mind that their choice of wood is usually not less than 2 inches thick. The reason for this is that they drill 1-inch deep holes into the wood with their mandibles at the beginning of their construction — a tedious and very difficult task for them that takes up anywhere from 5 to 6 days. Since carpenter bees don’t have teeth, they have to use these specially designed mandibles to dig.

Once achieved, a right-angled turn follows and then more drilling. This is to make sure there is enough space to protect all the eggs and larvae that will be housed in there. Different cells, sometimes numbering up to 6, are also built inside the tunnel for the purpose of housing individual eggs.

Why Do Carpenter Bees Drill Holes In Wood?

So now that we’ve talked about how carpenter bees drill holes in wood, we need to quickly talk about why carpenter bees drill holes!

Overall carpenter bees are considered solitary insects, which means they don’t live in colonies or hives like other types of bees. So instead of living in a hive with hundreds of other bees, carpenter bees will live in small groups, sometimes just couples, and drill out holes in wood to use as a safe place to lay eggs and raise their offspring.

To put it simply, carpenter bees drill holes in wood to create a safe place for their female mate to lay eggs and raise their offspring.

Do Carpenter Bees Reuse Holes?

Because it takes weeks of effort for carpenter bees to drill out adequate nesting tunnels, it’s quite common for carpenter bees to reuse their own nests or even take over abandoned holes. So if you have a carpenter bee nest on your property, it’s a very strong possibility that they will return to the nest season after season.

Final Thoughts On Carpenter Bees Drilling Holes

Carpenter bees can be extremely annoying as a home owner because of the damage they can cause to your porch or your siding. Thankfully we’ve created a guide on getting rid of carpenter bees.

Interesting points to note about this whole process are:

  1. Carpenter bees do not eat wood.
  2. It is the female bees that do the work of drilling while the male keeps guard over the nest.
  3. The male bees have no stinger and for that reason are harmless. Their aggressive behavior, whenever an intruder is noticed, is all they have to show for. All bark and no bite, you might choose to term it.
  4. The female bees possess stingers though they barely use it until when provoked. Their bites are also very painful and would be better avoided than experienced.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this blog on how do carpenter bees drill holes and I hope it helps to protect your home!


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