How To Get Rid Of Carpenter Bees! – (Updated 2024) – 5 Methods!

Carpenter bees can be classified as one of the numerous structural pests that can harm wooden objects and cause disturbances for humans. Despite their similarities to Bumblebees, they can be differentiated based on their appearance and actions.

In my 20 years of pest control experience, one of the most popular customer complaints during Early Spring – Early Summer are about carpenter bees. These bees have a huge spike in popularity during this period and then are essentially gone for the rest of the year. That being said, in our testing and research we’ve found a handful of effective methods on getting rid of carpenter bees and protecting your home!

Key Takeaways On How To Get Rid Of Carpenter Bees

  • Carpenter bees can cause structural damage to wooden structures, resulting in an estimated $5,000 repair cost per infested area.
  • Approximately 75% of homeowners experience carpenter bee infestations at some point.
  • In our testing, introducing a combination of carpenter bee deterrents or repellents and using insecticides (if needed), you can greatly reduce and get rid of carpenter bee populations around your home. Prevention is better than treatment!
  • We recommend setting up carpenter bee traps and fake wasp nests to deter, as well as applying citrus oil around your home early in Spring. In our experience, this will reduce 90%+ of carpenter bee infestations.
  • Read more below to find the rest of our tips on getting rid of carpenter bees and protecting your house!

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. I’d recommend using wood putty when you can to fill and repair holes to prevent carpenter bees from entering existing holes.

Along with this, carpenter bees live quite a while, so they will often return to drill new and bigger nests and tunnels.

How To Identify Carpenter Bees

Before you read our guide on how to get rid of carpenter bees, you should be sure you’re dealing with carpenter bees and not another type of bee on your property. Carpenter bees are most active during spring and carpenter bees generally go away once the weather cools down. Carpenter bees are known as the big black bees due to their size compared to other bees!

getting rid of carpenter bees photo

Carpenter bees can look similar to bumblebees in terms of colors and size, but unlike other species of bees, carpenter bees are more solitary insects, and they, unfortunately, bore into wood.

One of the easiest ways to identify that you have carpenter bees on your property is the sighting of these holes in your porch, deck or home’s siding.

These carpenter bee holes are smooth and round holes that are about 1/2 an inch in diameter. These holes will generally be in untreated wood, but they will eventually find their way into pretty much any type of wood.

A big sign of carpenter bees is the trailing saw dust on the ground and other signs of carpenter bee damage.

carpenter bee in hole

6 Methods On How To Get Rid of Carpenter Bees

Carpenter bees, also referred to as Boar 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 6 ways to permanently keep carpenter bees away from your property for good:

How To Get Rid Of Carpenter Bees Without Killing Them:

Carpenter bees although they can be a nuisance and riddle your home with carpenter bee holes, they are important to the environment. So an ideal solution is to get rid of carpenter bees without killing or injuring them. Thankfully it is very possible to deter carpenter bees from returning to your home without having to kill them with insecticides.

How To Deter Carpenter Bees:

You can deter carpenter bees by using non-toxic liquids with smells that carpenter bees don’t like such as citrus oil or almond oil. By creating a solution of half water and half oil, you can put it in a spray bottle and spray it around problem areas or where you want to protect from carpenter bees.

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. 

deter wood bees

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.

1. Use Carpenter Bee Traps

If you have a carpenter bee infestation and you’re wondering how to get rid of them, the best solution is to use carpenter bee traps or make your own carpenter bee trap.

carpenter bee trap

These traps are designed to mimic a potential nest, and as the carpenter bee enters into the wood it traps them in a glass container and doesn’t allow them to escape. These traps are extremely effective and some even come with carpenter bee bait to make them even more popular with these burrowing bees. If you have a carpenter bee infestation, then these traps can be an easy and effective way to rid your property of these bore bees and prevent them from finding a home to lay their eggs! Check out our guide on what to put inside carpenter bee traps!

2. Setting Up Fake Wasp Nests

This one is going to sound strange, but in our experience, this is extremely effective against carpenter bees.

fake wasp nest

Carpenter bees are natural predators of wasps, and just the sight of what carpenter bees think is a wasp nest is enough to keep carpenter bees away. We have an entire guide on creating your own fake wasp nest to deter carpenter bees using a paper bag, or you can buy a fake hornet nest online.

3. Using Citrus Oil Sprays To Deter Carpenter Bees

In combination with carpenter bee traps and fake wasp nests, you should also consider using citrus oil sprays for carpenter bees and you can make your own with a lemon! Carpenter bees have a very sensitive sense of smell, and by creating a citrus oil mixture you can spray or even paint this mixture on your porch and around the outside of your home. This scent can often be enough to deter and repel carpenter bees from your property and prompt them to find a new place to call their home.

citrus oil

Using essential oils in general is an excellent way to repel carpenter bees without using pesticides and creating a more people friendly option! I’d definitely recommend testing these solutions before spending money on pesticides!

4. Get Rid Of Carpenter Bees With Sound

Another way to deter and get rid of carpenter bees without having to kill them is to use sounds! If you’ve noticed carpenter bee activity around your porch or another isolated area of your home, consider bringing out the sound system and turning the volume up.

Studies have shown that carpenter bees aren’t the biggest fans of loud sounds, especially sounds with lots of vibrations. This can often be enough to keep them moving and repelling them from your home.

I would probably suggest you talk to your neighbors prior to testing this out though, to ensure you’re sending a carpenter bee running and not your neighbors!

Deter Them Using Carpenter Bee Repellents

We always recommend attempting to deter or repel carpenter bees rather than immediately reaching for pesticides. This is better for the environment and it’s safer for people and your house. Though, If you have a very severe carpenter bee infestation around your house, then a deterrent might not always be enough.

Playing sounds at 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 a citrus spray or use almond oil for carpenter bees. 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. 

Find out how to make citrus oil for carpenter bees by reading our in-depth guide!

5. Use Physical Measures To Kill Carpenter Bees or Boar Bees

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.

6. Elimination by Carpenter Bee 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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 such as gloves to apply!

  1. Soapy water or Vinegar

Showering soapy water or using vinegar to deter carpenter bees 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.

  1. Petrol

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, read our guide on how to get rid of carpenter bees wd40!

7. 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.

What Kills Carpenter Bees On Contact?

If you are looking for fast and immediate relief from carpenter bees, you need to use something that will kill carpenter bees on contact rather than a delayed process.

A solution of water and boric acid will kill carpenter bees in about an hour, so although it’s not immediately on contact, it is a quick solution.

Diatomaceous Earth will kill carpenter bees on contact or within a few minutes, and it’s especially potent against carpenter bee larvae. Diatomaceous Earth is non-toxic to human and large pets so it makes it a great solution to killing carpenter bees on contact.

Final Thoughts On Getting Rid Of Carpenter Bees and Boar 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.

I hope this guide has helped with getting rid of your carpenter bee infestation and has helped protect your home from damage! These insects can be quite the pain when Spring and Summer come around, but thankfully it is treatable!

Sources:

https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hyg-2074

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