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How to identify carpenter bees

About Carpenter Bees

Carpenter Bee

So, you think you may have a carpenter bee problem? Here are some simple facts to help you identify if your unwanted guests are indeed carpenter bees.

First compare its appearance:

Carpenter bees resemble large bumble bees. The first characteristic that distinguishes them from the bumble bee is the smooth blackish-blue colored abdomen. The thorax is where the common yellow, orange and white hairs are, along with dark thick hair on the legs. Carpenter bees can range from ¾” to 1” (1.9 to 2.54 cm) in length. The female carpenter bees can be easily distinguished from the males. Females have a pure black head, while the male heads have white markings. Carpenter bees are considered to be docile, meaning they very rarely sting unless provoked. The females are actually the only ones with stingers.

The second clue is to spot any 1/2" diameter holes in wood. If you see some, check to spot any bees hovering nearby. Carpenter bees were given their name because of the manner in which they make their nests, by burrowing tunnels into wood. The female is the working lady, she makes the nest. She vibrates her mandibles against the grain of the wood, effectively chipping through it. It is common for a bee to make a tunnel that is 2 or more feet long with multiple sub channels branching off the main tunnel. The entrance to the tunnel will be a circle about ½” in diameter. There is typically also a male bee hovering around the entrance that acts as the protector to the female. While again, he does not have a stinger, he is aggressive in defending the nest. His general mechanism of defense is to dive bomb and literally body slam any offender. If you see a hole, sometimes there will be fresh wood chippings in the entrance. This will indicate that the female is currently burrowing a tunnel.

Second, look for holes:

If you don’t see any holes right away, keep an eye on any wood that is exposed.  Carpenter bees will nest in a large range of woods from soft to hardwoods.  However, they will go for whatever wood is easiest and best guarded for them.  This could be anything from your bare patio furniture, porch railings, exposed wood near the roof, you name it!

Look for holes in wood

Also to note, the carpenter bees are most active during the spring.  This is when they emerge from their nests and start their mating and nesting process over again.  It is important to be vigilant to any carpenter bee nests before real problems arise.  Best Bee Traps hung by your roof and porch will draw the carpenter bees away from nesting in your exposed wood.  These traps are specifically designed to attract the carpenter bee and trap them in a convenient plastic bottle.  The Best Bee Trap is simple to use and guaranteed to catch carpenter bees!

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  • jeffrey. on

    thank you for your best bee product. I ordered 2 ea in april 2016 1 for my front porch.and 1 for my rear deck. in two weeks I have traped 12 to 15 bees.great product. Jeffrey Amanda,ohio.

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