Carpenter Bees Damage Wood

Carpenter bees are very interesting insects with a unique set of behaviors.  They are excellent pollinators of plants but they can also be a nuisance, causing damage to homes all over the country. These creatures are known as wood destroying insects, because they make their nests inside of wood and cause a host of problems for home owners as a result. If left unchecked, carpenter bees can cause structural damage.


A Carpenter bee actually looks a lot like a bumble bee.

Differences are:

Bumble bees have a hairy abdomen, carpenter bees have a bare abdomen.

Bumble bees have yellow bands on their belly, carpenter bees do not.

Carpenter bees are not very aggressive, but they can sting. The females are capable of stinging; the male bees are not a threat. But, the males are very protective of their space, so they may seem aggressive at times. The females are usually more interested in drilling holes and doing their job, so it is unusual to get a sting from them.

Carpenter bees get their name because they dig into exposed pieces of wood to build their nest.  Contrary to popular belief, carpenter bees do not eat the wood like termites.  Rather, they rely on pollen and nectar from nearby plants as a food source for themselves and their young.

A carpenter bee hole looks pretty perfect. It can be as large as a half an inch in diameter. Once the bee gets inside the wood, she starts to drill tunnels and lay eggs. The holes can be anywhere, although obviously they are only found on wood surfaces. Therefore, you may see holes in your siding, trees, decks and even swing sets.

Carpenter bees can cause a lot of damage, eventually weakening the structure of the home or building they are in. Carpenter bees love to fly under the radar. Therefore, many homeowners do not notice the holes or the bees right away. In contrast, termites and carpenter ants are much more conspicuous. As a result, carpenter bee damage builds up over time, often becoming fairly extensive before it is discovered.

There are several signs to be aware of if you believe that you have a carpenter bee infestation

  1. Circular holes that these insects create.  They’ve been known to create their nest in several places including fence post, mailboxes, and lawn furniture. 

  2. Wood Shavings – There’s a chance that they may also colonize hidden or unexposed areas so you may have trouble locating their nest.  If that’s the case, you can also look for wood shavings on the ground.  These shavings are from the circular holes they create so if you find these then their nest should be close. 

  3. Lastly, look for any yellowish streaks around your wooden structures.  Carpenter bees will release their waste prior to entering their nest so you will often see yellowish streaks just below the entrance.

If possible, treat the holes with an insecticidal dust at night. Do not close up the holes right away; the bees need to come into contact with the dust and spread it through the tunnels. When the weather cools off again, fill the holes with wood putty and then paint the surface. Of course, because it is difficult to treat the holes safely, it is often best to contact a pest control company.

A carpenter bee problem should be taken seriously. Because these are wood destroying insects, it does not take long before the structure of the building is compromised. If you have a concern, contact your local pest control professional.

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