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Home Maintenance Tip: Prevent Carpenter Bee Damage to Your House

Posted on May 23, 2015

Have you noticed bees swarming around your house eaves or porch ceiling? While they may look like bumblebees, they are likely carpenter bees. These bees can cause significant structural damage to your house by boring holes into wood siding, eaves, window trim, porch ceilings, fascia, decks and outdoor furniture.

What Damage Can Carpenter Bees Cause?

Carpenter bees are active in the spring and summer. After an entrance hole is bored about an inch deep, the tunnel will take a right angle turn and extend another 4 to 6 inches. These tunnels are used for shelter and to lay eggs. The nests can be reused in future years with additional drilling creating extensive damage to the wood over time.

Also, woodpeckers eat carpenter bee larvae and can cause even further damage to the wood. Holes in wood can lead to moisture damage and attract other wood-destroying insects.

How Do You know if You Have Carpenter Bees?

Besides the almost perfectly ½” round bored holes in wood, you may notice yellow stains from bee fecal matter in areas near the holes. Carpenter bees eat pollen, not wood, which is why sawdust is present below an area of activity.

How Can You Control or Prevent Carpenter Bees?

  • Paint or Stain Wood: While not foolproof, the best prevention is to keep all wood surfaces well stained and sealed or painted to discourage carpenter bees. A heavy finish is best.
  • Apply Natural Oils: Spray or wipe citrus oil or tea tree oil to wood surfaces under attack. Almond oil and lavender oil are also options to repel carpenter bees.
  • Treat Entrance Holes: Carbaryl dust or boric acid should be applied to the sides of the entrance holes to ensure contact with the bees. Also, dust or push insecticide as far as possible into the tunnel.
  • Repair Entrance Holes: To keep carpenter bees from enlarging the tunnels each year, repair the holes. Wait at least 3 days after treating the entrance holes to seal it up. Otherwise, new holes could be bored. Use caulk or wood putty to fill the holes. Remember to paint or varnish the repairs once finished.

If all this seems overwhelming, don’t hesitate to call in a professional if you aren’t able to tackle this project on your own. Keeping carpenter bees at bay can be an on-going project.


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