Carpenter bees are one among the many structural insect pests that damage wooden materials and cause a nuisance to man. Although they have a striking resemblance to Bumblebees, they are distinguished by their physical features and behavior.
Carpenter bees are solitary and prefer to bore through softwood to build their nests and lay eggs. Female carpenter bees appear during spring to search for wood that can serve as a suitable nesting site. They mostly attack unpainted or untreated wood, but can still damage painted wood. A good target site is outdoor wooden surfaces such as window frames, decks, and fence posts. Over time, the accumulation of drilled holes and nests compromises the quality of these materials and shortens their lifespan. Along with this, carpenter bees live quite a while, so they will often return to drill new and bigger nests and tunnels.
How To Get Rid of Carpenter Bees
Carpenter bees are valuable to regional ecosystems. They are also important pollinators of some garden and economic crops, so it is preferable to repel them from your home than destroy them.
However, if infestations become too much, you can use non-toxic insecticides and repellents to eliminate them. Below are 5 ways to permanently keep carpenter bees away from your property for good:
1. Preventive Measures and Sealing
Close up holes or crevices existing before the infestation. When searching for nest sites, female carpenter bees go for wood with pre-existing holes or crevices. Ensure you cover up these spots with puddy, or caulking to deter them from using the holes.
You also want to apply paint or stain to wooden structures—especially those outside your building. A painted or stained outdoor wood surface will not only preserve it from harsh weather conditions but also help to discourage carpenter bees from attacking. Also, go for treated wood when constructing your outdoor furniture. Treated wood is more resistant to pest attack and will last longer.
2. Deter Them Using Carpenter Bee Repellents
Substances that are repulsive to carpenter bees can be used to repel and eliminate them. This strategy is usually environment-friendly, non-toxic, and can be easily employed.
Playing sounds on high volume can help. Vibrations are known to irritate carpenter bees in their nests. Using loudspeakers for at least 3 days can help to introduce sounds in the form of vibrations to eradicate carpenter bees. It is very safe and friendly, except to maybe your neighbors. Make sure to inform those who live near you before commencing this process. Also, cover up nests after the bees are gone.
Another effective method is to apply citrus spray. Carpenter bees are also unsettled by the smell of citrus and can be sent packing by it. Prepare an infusion by boiling peels of various citrus fruits and draining them into a mist bottle. Then, apply in infested areas repeatedly.
You can also try almond essence or oil. Almonds can averse existing bees. Spraying infested regions thoroughly with almond oil or essence can help to fend off carpenter bees.
3. Use Physical Measures Such As Carpenter Bee Traps
We don’t advise you to kill carpenter bees because of their role in the ecosystem. However, to eliminate a few that cause a nuisance — especially male bees that hover around nest regions — you can use the following tools:
- Carpenter Bee traps
Set up bee traps in regions susceptible to attack during Spring, to catch carpenter bees. You can release them in different areas, or take them to a beekeeper—instead of killing them. This method is a safe way to deter them from attacking wood surfaces. You can obtain a suitable bee trap online.
- Tennis/Badminton racket
You can eradicate the bees by slapping them against a surface with a tennis or badminton racket. This method can only be used for flying adults outside their nests. So, it may not be a significant means of elimination.
- Vacuum newly infested areas
A high-powered vacuum cleaner with an extension for the infested hole can draw adult carpenter bees out of the holds. This tool is practical for new and shallow nests.
4. Elimination by Insecticides
The rate of carpenter bee infestations may become high after some time and be disturbing. Hence, their numbers should be reduced or eliminated using insecticides. This method proves to be very effective but should be the last resort after all other procedures are exhausted. This is because such chemicals may be poisonous to you and your environment. Make sure to follow the instructions from the manufacturer and use protective gear.
- Insecticidal dust
Diatomaceous dust or commercial insecticidal dust such as Tempo Dust is effective in eliminating carpenter bees in deep holes. They work by tampering with the bees’ breathing apparatus, thereby causing them to die and desiccate. Use a hand duster with a curved tip to apply the dust deep into the channels of the holes.
- Residual liquid insecticide
Apply insecticides such as FenverStarCap and Cyzmic CS by spraying on infested wooden areas. Their residual activity will enable them to stick to the applied surface for some time. It is suggested that they are applied twice within 3 weeks for effectiveness. Do not apply near an open flame, and make sure to put on protective gear.
- Soapy water or Vinegar
Showering soapy water or a vinegar solution in newly formed holes can be a cheap way to get rid of carpenter bees. It can also be used as a non-toxic method, but may not be as long-lasting as using dust or residual sprays.
Petrol can serve as an alternative insecticide for exterminating carpenter bees. Ensure to gear up and use a little amount in a mist bottle to spray infested areas. Also, make sure to put out open flames before application. Similar to this, WD-40 can keep carpenter bees away.
5. Seek Professional Services
One good way to eliminate carpenter bees is to employ the services of a professional bee exterminator. They are equipped with the technical know-how to handle such situations.
You can also seek the services of a professional beekeeper to locate potential infestation regions or relocate nests. This will rid you of the pests and avoid destroying the bees.
Final Thoughts On Getting Rid Of Carpenter Bees
Carpenter bees—unlike their counterparts, the Bumblebees—are well-known to rather a nest in wooden structures. Hence, they cause nuisance and destruction. Several strategies including repellents, traps, and insecticides can be used to eliminate them. However, non-toxic and environmentally-friendly methods are advised because carpenter bees are essential pollinators.