Big, bold, and buzzing—three innocuous words describing the frightening and seemingly “aggressive” force behind the Carpenter bee. A strong contender for area homeowner’s most loathed springtime enemy, three simple truths about carpenter bees may actually surprise you.
Hovering & dive-bombing in the name of love.
It’s what carpenter bees do, second to springtime pollination. Shiny, black in color and resembling a large bumble bee, the adult male carpenter bee “hovers” while he patrols an area seeking a suitable female mate. Curious in nature, it’s not unusual for the male carpenter bee (upon discovering you within his territory) to fly in and hover only inches from your face. The Good News: Male carpenter bees don’t sting! Still can’t get out of the way fast enough? Try tossing a small stone away from you – interestingly enough, the carpenter bee has a foolish eye for almost anything that moves.
Carpenter bee feces: It Stains.
Ever notice a yellowish-brown splatter on the siding of your home, perhaps beneath the gutter? This mess is caused by carpenter bee feces and it is incredibly difficult to clean from windows and other surfaces. It is, however, a good indicator that a carpenter bee problem exists. Look high and low for this telltale sludge in an effort to locate carpenter bee nesting sites.
Excavating to build a nest.
The female carpenter bee prepares a nest for her young unlike no other and the seriousness of her mission wouldn’t be complete without a tool-belt fit for a woodworker! She alone is responsible for grinding her mandibles against the wood to hollow out a nearly perfect dime-sized entrance hole and 6-8 inch gallery to make way for her nest. Generally targeting wood that is either unpainted or weathered, the female carpenter bee will return to the same nesting site year after year. Who wouldn’t after all that work?
What you can do.
Carpenter bees are beneficial pollinators and pose a limited sting threat. They generally only become a nuisance when they make their nests inside fascia boards, wooden patio furniture, along privacy fencing, the undersides of decking, children’s swing sets, and other “attractive” wooden structures. Your best defense against carpenter bees is prevention by maintaining wooden surfaces:
• Remove and replace damaged wood with pressure-treated or chemically-treated lumber
• Maintain all painted surfaces, making sure to pre-fill nail holes and cracks with caulk
• When carpenter bee infested wood cannot be replaced, pesticide applications can be targeted to individual nesting galleries
• Post-treatment holes and galleries may be sealed with caulk or wood filler and repainted