Have you ever seen little piles of sawdust under wood that has perfectly circular holes in it? If so, you’ve seen the masterwork of a carpenter bee. Female bees make their nests in wood and can do some major damage while doing so: some nests can be upwards of four feet long with many galleries that branch out like fingers.
Carpenter Bees 101
Carpenter bees are really great to have around-as long as they’re not getting too close to your house! They are solitary, unlike honeybees, but will live close to each other, and occasionally a small number will stay near a nest to protect it. Nests are created when the female vibrates her body, causing her mandibles to turn the wood into easily removable sawdust. Contrary to popular belief, this sawdust is never eaten, but is instead used to create safe nurseries for individual eggs, along with pollen and nectar within the nest. Any extra sawdust is pushed out of the nest, creating a neat pile that is a clear indicator of carpenter presence.
Why They’re Pests
As we’ve already mentioned, carpenter bees nest in wood. Know what else has wood? Your home. The entire reason why they’re pests is that carpenter bees don’t care if they bore into a decaying tree or if they bore into your home’s wooden door frame or deck. Wood is wood to a bee. And they don’t just build their one nest and leave; mothers and daughters will often make nests beside each other, generation after generation, until your wood is destroyed and you have some expensive repairs to tend to.
Are They Dangerous?
Really, the only dangers that carpenter bees present are to your home. The males do not even have stingers, so they are incapable of harming people. Females do have stingers, but they are incredibly reticent about using them. Females will only sting if they are being crushed, handled, or if they feel directly threatened. People with bee allergies should avoid being stung by carpenter bees, but their lack of aggression really does make that easy.
Extermination and Control
Regardless of some of their positive attributes, their destructive nature more than warrants their removal. There are a few DIY options available on the market, but these only kill active bees, and miss the next generation completely. Instead of wasting money on ineffective DIY treatments, it’s best to call a professional exterminator to take care of your infestation and treat the affected areas on or around your home to deter other carpenter bees from moving in. Your professional pest control team can also aid in the identification of the damage caused to your home and give you suggestions on how to repair it and prevent future damage.