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Carpenter Bees


Wood destroying pests are costly to keep around, and carpenter bees are a common wood destroyer Michiganders see during the summer months. 

How to Identify a Carpenter Bee 

At a glance, it’s easy to mistake a carpenter bee for a bumblebee. Both have thick bodies with black and yellow coloration.  

How do you tell them apart? 

  • Bumblebees tend to be larger (though both can be around 1”). 
  • Bumblebees have hairy abdomen. A carpenter bee’s abdomen is shiny, black, and hairless. 
  • Carpenter bees burrow into wood. Bumblebees do not. 
  • Carpenter bees are mostly solitary. Bumblebees are social and live with hives. 
  • Bumblebees hover from flower to flower to collect pollen. Carpenter bees swoop and dive like aerobatic airplanes. 

Do Carpenter Bees Eat Wood? 

No. But they do burrow into it. Their tunnel networks, known as galleries, are where carpenter bees like to lay their larvae. An entry to a carpenter bee gallery will look like a perfectly round .5 inch hole. 

When are Carpenter Bees Active? 

They come out in spring and get to work on building their galleries throughout the summer months. They will overwinter in their galleries when temperatures drop. 

Where Do Carpenter Bees Build Their Galleries? 

The ideal home of a carpenter bee is inside an unfinished softwood. This wood is popular on porches, trim, and even sometimes of siding and patio furniture. Carpenter bees enjoy the warmth and are most likely to choose to burrow into wood that faces the sun during some part of the day. 

Fascia boards (the long, wood boards where the roof of a home meets the walls) are also popular places for carpenter bees to burrow. 

Is Your Wood at Risk? Unfinished softwoods like redwood, pine, cedar, cypress, and more are all attractive to carpenter bees. Consider adding a coat of paint or varnish to your outdoor wood in the spring to lessen its appeal. 

Are Carpenter Bees Dangerous? 

Carpenter bees aren’t aggressive with their stingers. Like bumblebees, they only sting when threatened. Unlike bumblebees, carpenter bees can sting more than once. However, only the females have stingers. 

The biggest threat carpenter bees post is damage to unfinished wood on decks, trim, and other areas around your house. Not only do the bees dig into the wood, but their larva is an attractive meal for woodpeckers who can double down on the damage. 

Getting Rid of Carpenter Bees

Treating your wood is one of the best preventative measures you can take against carpenter bees. However, a preventative pest control plan can also help keep the stinging pests away, or eliminate them quickly before a gallery becomes a structural or appearance issue.