Carpenter bees are large black and yellow bees. They can frequently be seen in spring hovering around the eaves of your house or the underside of a deck or porch rail. They are most often mistaken for bumble bees but they differ in that they have a black shiny hind section. The carpenter bee got its name because of its habit of excavating tunnels in wood with its strong jaws. Carpenter bee holes are usually found on the underside of a board and about a 1/2 inch in diameter. A tell tale trace of a carpenter bee hole is coarse sawdust often found on the surface beneath the hole. The entrance holes start upward for about 1/2 inch or more then they turn horizontally and follow the wood grain. The tunnels typically run six to seven inches but can exceed one foot. Occasionally several bees use the same entrance hole but they will have individual tunnels branching off of the main tunnel. If the same entrance hole is used for several years tunnels can extend to several feet in the wood. Inside a female bees tunnel she will gradually build a large pollen ball which serves as food for her offspring. She deposits an egg near this pollen ball and then will seal off the section with a partition made of chewed wood. She will construct additional cells in this manner until her tunnel is completely filled. The adult bees die in a matter of weeks and the eggs will hatch in a few days. The offspring then completes their development in about 5 to 7 weeks and the new adults will begin to emerge in later summer. The bees will remain active feeding on pollen in the general area but they will not construct new tunnels, however they may be seen cleaning out old tunnels which they will use as overwintering sites when the weather turns cold. Wooden decks, overhangs and other exposed wood on houses are prime targets. Painted or treated wood are less preferred but they are by no means immune to attack. Unpainted or stained cedar, cypress and redwood shingles and siding can also be attacked despite their pest resistant reputations. Carpenter bees do not consume the wood as food. They just simply excavate tunnels for nesting sites. Typically carpenter bees do not cause serious structural damage to wood unless large numbers of bees are allowed to drill many tunnels over several years. The bees will often eliminate their wastes before entering the tunnel causing a yellowish brown staining. Woodpeckers may damage infested wood in search of bee larvae in the tunnels though. In the case of thin wood such as siding the woodpecker damage can be severe. Also holes on exposed wood may lead to damage by wood decaying fungi or attacks by other insects such as carpenter ants.
Complete Home Services has carpenter bee traps that we can set to trap the bees to help reduce damage. Contact us today before the bees begin their spring tunneling.