Q&A / 

Carpenter Bee Control

Carpenter bees are really interesting insects. When I first saw them around my house I thought they were somewhat terrifying. The bees would come very close to my head and look at me. If I moved, they followed. They never attacked, but looked as if they might at any moment.

It turns out that these bees were male - the half of the species that has no stinger! If I would have know then what I know now, I would have swatted at those dudes in a heartbeat - at least while my wife was not around.

Beneficial Insect

My wife has taught me to respect all living insects and animals. It really makes sense as all living things are involved in creating a balance in the biosphere we call the planet Earth. Carpenter bees pollinate plants. This pollination is necessary to ensure the procreation of flowers, trees, etc. In other words, we need bees!

But, if bees start using your home as a nesting place you might get upset at the damage they do. I feel an alternative is to try to live with the critters in peace.

Options

One thing that my research showed is that the carpenter bees do not like to drill through painted wood. This may work for you. If you can simply live with painted exterior wood, do so. Apply a fresh coat of paint and see if that acts as a suitable repellent.

If you have a stained log home or don't want to paint, then you might want to try to lure them to a decoy piece of wood or small structure. Think bird houses. We go to the trouble to build separate structures for birds, why not do the same for the bees instead of killing them?

I can tell you from experience that the carpenter bees at my home simply love soft redwood. Perhaps you can attach some decorative pieces of redwood or cedar at different parts of the house that the bees might find. They seem to really prefer shaded areas at my house.

You might try building a small structure like a Purple Martin bird house. Make it out of redwood, cedar, cypress, fir or pine. Create some nice roof overhangs for the bees to drill into. I know this sounds crazy, but the structure might just become a neat neighborhood conversation piece.

The Life Cycle

The bees you are seeing right now are adults that are drilling and creating new nests. They will soon lay eggs. The young bees hatch in the late summer, emerge from the nests, and fly around getting familiar with the neighborhood. As winter approaches the new adults re-enter the nest and hang out there during the winter months. The following spring they emerge from the nests and start the entire process all over again.

The month of June is an excellent time to treat the holes and galleries with insecticidal dust. The adults that are drilling now are still creating nests and starting to stock them with food for the young.

The dust you puff into the holes and nests will possibly kill both the current adults and any young that hatch from eggs that the females might have already laid.

Plan for Next Year

Keep in mind the thoughts about my suggestion for a non-violent approach. In other words, think about creating a home for carpenter bees. We need them. If everybody killed all of the carpenter bees, we would cause a disruption in the biosphere. It just makes common sense.

If you do build a bee house, send me a photo!

Column B314

SPONSORS / 

5 Responses to Carpenter Bee Control

Leave a Reply

You have to agree to the comment policy.