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Carpenter Bee

Danger/Damage

Although male carpenter bees are aggressive, they do not have a stinger as the female does. Male carpenter bees can be intimidating, hovering in front of people who are around nesting sites. Female carpenter bees can inflict a painful sting but will seldom do so and require provocation.


Did you know?

Carpenter bees resemble bumble bees in both size and appearance, but are not social insects.

If you see a number of large bees hovering near the eaves of the house or drilling in wood, they are carpenter bees. Carpenter bees can cause extensive damage to properties by burrowing into wooden structures to build their nest.

Significant damage can occur when the same pieces of wood are infested year after year. Holes in the wood surface also facilitate moisture intrusion, rot, and decay.


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Carpenter bees are large 12.5-25 mm (1/2-1 inch) look similar to bumble bees in appearance, Carpenter bee abdomens are smooth and shiny, whereas bumble bees’ have hairy, abdomens with some yellow marking.


Carpenter bees do not live in colonies like honey bees or bumble bees. The adults overwinter individually, often in previously constructed brood tunnels. Those that survive the winter emerge and mate the following spring.

Carpenter bees make their nests after making perfectly circular holes into wood. Then tunneling inside the wood usually following the grain of the wood and parallel to the outer longitudinal surface and leaving a tell-tale pile of sawdust behind. Their preferred wood is usually bare, weathered, unpainted, or softwoods like redwood, cedar, cypress, and pine.

Carpenter bees can burrow into any wooden structure, such as decks, outdoor furniture, siding, wooden window trim. Depending on the amount of damage. Some structures may become unstable and in danger of collapsing.


After mating, female carpenter bees will tunnel into wood to lay their eggs in a series of small cells. There are typically 6 to 8 chambers created by the female. The larvae that hatch from the eggs complete their development and pupate. Newly developed adult carpenter bees emerge in August, feed on nectar, and return to the tunnels to over-winter.

Pollen collected from flowers is placed in the cells for the larvae to feed on during their development.

As adults, the bees will forage flowers in search of nectar to survive. Carpenter bees can live for up to three years and have one generations of offspring per year.

Young adult male and female bees hibernate in the tunnels during the winter.


  1. Carpenter ants do not eat wood. They only tunnel and chew through wood to create nests.
  2. The gallery walls that carpenter ants create are smooth, with a sand-papered appearance. Active galleries are kept clean of debris.
  3. Carpenter ants have powerful jaws.
  4. Carpenter ants can inject formic acid into the bite wound, creating a burning sensation. However, this pain will subside and is not a health threat.
  5. Carpenter ants feed primarily on insect honeydew, plant and fruit juices, insects, and other arthropods. Inside, they will also feed on sweets, eggs, meats, cakes, and grease.

Are carpenter bees hazardous to humans?

Although male carpenter bees are known to be aggressive, they do not have a stinger as the female does. The biggest problem people have with carpenter bees is when the bee burrows a tunnel into the wood of a home or building to build their nest.

What are carpenter bees?

Carpenter bees get their name from their habit of boring into wood. Carpenter bees do not eat wood but cause damage to structures by drilling circular holes to create tunnels inside the wood. Unlike other bees, such as honey bees and bumble bees that live in colonies, carpenter bees are not social insects and build individual nests into trees outdoors or the frames, eaves, or sides of buildings.

Can carpenter bees damage my property?

Carpenter bees are a serious property threat and cause structural damage over time if left untreated, especially if they repeatedly bore holes for nesting throughout the property. Furthermore, the large larvae developing into tunnels in homes are oftentimes attractive to woodpeckers that will seek out developing carpenter bees and create more extensive damage to the existing holes.

How can I prevent carpenter bees?

Carpenter bees usually will not tunnel into painted wood. Therefore, a more permanent solution is to paint unfinished wood surfaces, especially those with a history of infestation.

What are the signs of a carpenter bee infestation?

The most common signs of a carpenter bee infestation are the round, smooth holes that carpenter bees bore into wood. To identify early damage to buildings, homeowners should regularly inspect the perimeter of the home and surrounding property for the presence of these holes and hovering bees.

Since carpenter bees prefer bare wood, painting and staining wood can sometimes help deter them. However, they will occasionally attack stained or painted wood.

How do I get rid of a carpenter bees infestation?

To remove a minor carpenter bee infestation, plug the holes they burrow during the fall months. For a more severe infestation of carpenter bees, call Abell Pest Control. We are familiar with the habits of carpenter bees and have the necessary tools to remove an infestation.


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