Carpenter Bee Tips

Carpenter Bee Tips

One of our readers, Cindy, asked me about carpenter bees and below is what I discovered and tips from readers who have had experience with them.

I'm wondering if you have any ideas how to get rid of carpenter bees. We have a lot boring holes in our deck. Thanks in advance for your help. ~Cindy

I've been fortunate and haven't had carpenter bees, just carpenter ants, so I did some research. They prefer wood that is unpainted and untreated. The preventive measure is to paint or use some type of sealant such as polyurethane on all wood surfaces or use treated wood when possible. I could not find a non-toxic way to get rid of them once they have infested. There are a lot of sprays out there that can used early in the morning or in the evening when it's cooler and the bees slow down. Once this has been done the holes should be plugged and the surface painted, replaced with treated wood or coated with polyurethane as mentioned.

READER TIPS

In regard to carpenter bees, you can spray them in the hole with WD40. It works great! My husband has gotten several this way. ~Nancy

Relative to Carpenter Bees-I ended up pushing a metal coat hanger down into the hole to smash them, then plugged the hole. I found that they will bore into redwood treated with penetrating oil. They usually start where there is a C'bore, indent or hole already present. You could try plugging as many defects like this before they start boring. I found that plugging a hole did not stop them if already in the hole (they just bored a new way out) If you plug the hole when they are out, they will bore a new entry adjacent to the plug. ~Jim

I have had great success getting RID of these dang things by making a thick slurry of Tide detergent and water, put that in some sort of squeeze bottle, not a sprayer, and pour it into the holes made by the bees. It will kill the bees outright, kills the larva in the nests, and discourages the surviving ones from re-entering the hole and they go elsewhere. I imagine any detergent powder would do the same, I just used Tide :) I like that it is not a pesticide spray, so I felt good about using it on my patio, etc... ~Pat

We had scary wood bores in our carport fascia every year during the painting of an adjacent fence, we unknowingly left a mason jar soaking brushes in turpentine about 6 feet below the bees' ceiling entrance...the fumes wafted, the bees departed, and we never had to 'apply' the toxin. I'm wondering if any really stinky solvent might do the trick...and obviously, the vented container must be spill proof and animal proof. ~Linda

I have some friends in NW France and they had a problem with Carpenter bees in their chimneys. They simply boarded up the inside opening and smoked them out. ~April

CARPENTER BEES NOT ALL BAD

I am sure there are reasons why some folks may need to get of carpenter bees, but here they are one of our best pollinators with the devastation of the honey bee population. They are mild critters usually and only build their condos in dead wood. You really need to do something drastic to get them to come after you. The black female has a stinger, the beige/light brown male does not. Unless there is a really good reason for getting them out of a specific area, folks should consider leaving these gentle giants to the business of ensuring flowers, fruits and vegetables. ~Catherine, The Herb Lady

I tend to leave carpenter bees alone. I have whole hives of them in some boxes under the front windows of my house that I will be forced to destroy when I paint the house. It's making me really sad. Like Catherine, our pollinators are few and far between, so I treasure these critters. I go out every morning to water or weed or whatever, and they come and buzz around and say hello. I've NEVER been stung by one in 9 years, although they are very curious about what you're doing. Thanks! ~Deb

About the carpenter bees you are talking about I think around here we call them Mason bees and lots of us build houses for them . We clean them up in the fall and put them back out in the spring. If we are talking about the same bees they are very good for the garden ~Doug

Editor's Note: It sounds like Carpenter bees and Mason bees could easily be confused because they both tend to nest in wood, and Doug is right, they are VERY good for the garden and orchard. They are also a gentle bee. This link explains more about them with pictures: http://gardening.wsu.edu/library/inse006/inse006.htm

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