Perhaps you’ve already noticed the small, circular holes in the siding, roof, deck or other wooden structures of your home. Maybe you’ve even heard the telltale “bzzz bzzz” or caught a glimpse of their black abdomens as they flitted to and from their nests. We’re talking, of course, about industrious (and pesky) carpenter bees.
If you’ve ever been the victim of a carpenter bee infestation, then you know just how bothersome these big bees are. Whether it's damage to the structure of your home, the aggressive (yet harmless) behavior of male carpenter bees in protecting their nests, or the decidedly less harmless, painful sting of a provoked female carpenter bee…there’s not much to love about these unwanted neighbors moving in on your territory.
Yet most of this activity happens during the day, when you’re trying to get the barbecue going or enjoy the weather outside with your family. But what happens to carpenter bees at night? Where do they go, and how do they spend their evenings? The answer might surprise you.
Where Do Carpenter Bees Go at Night?
In terms of their nocturnal patterns, carpenter bees are really not so different from humans. Like us, carpenter bees are generally not very active at night. Instead, they prefer to rise with the sun and start their foraging for pollen and nectar early in the morning. In fact, all insects have a nervous system that requires at least some duration of sleep to remain optimally functional, and carpenter bees are no exception.
As dusk begins to settle and the sun dips below the horizon line, carpenter bees return to their small nests for the evening.
What Do Carpenter Bees Do at Night?
The truth is, carpenter bees don’t do much of anything at night – except sleep, that is.
When we describe a carpenter bee as being more or less active during different times of the day, we are referring to the amount of activity they complete. This includes foraging for pollen and nectar, excavating tunnels and individual chambers of their nests, preparing for winter hibernation (depending on the time of year) and generally protecting the area around their cultivated nesting sites.
Do Carpenter Bees Sleep At Night?
One interesting aspect of carpenter bee sleep cycles is that, unlike people, carpenter bees can manipulate their circadian rhythm, seemingly at will, to suit the needs of their environment. What does this mean exactly? Well, suppose a natural disaster struck, or an unusually early winter were to arrive with below-average temperatures. Carpenter bees are unique in that they can alter their sleep schedules so that they are awake and busy during the times of the day that are best for them to complete their tasks. So while it is generally accepted that carpenter bees do sleep at night, this can change depending on external circumstances. The exception to this rule, however, is winter.
So, where do carpenter bees sleep? During the long, cold months of winter, carpenter bees prefer to hibernate and remain enclosed in their protective structures. It is here that they will wait out the cold weather until warmer days arrive. Those that survive the long hibernation will awaken in the spring and begin foraging, mating and nesting all over again.
How to Get Rid of Carpenter Bees at Night
So…what’s the deal? Should you be getting rid of your carpenter bee infestation at night?
The truth is that there are advantages and disadvantages to dealing with carpenter bees at night. For starters, the diminished activity of carpenter bees at night means that you are less likely to encounter any puffed-up males dive-bombing you in protection of their nest, or any aggravated females (who have the ability to inflict painful stings). However, carpenter bee nests are not always at eye level or in easily reached locations. The lack of natural light (i.e., sunlight) can make reaching these nests both more complicated and slightly more dangerous.
While the specific tactics of dealing with carpenter bee infestations do not change from the daylight to nighttime hours, we do recommend that you be especially careful if attempting to plug any carpenter bee nests. This again has more to do with human-prone accidents than the sudden waking of a nest full of angry carpenter bees (though this is also a possibility).
Instead of planning a nighttime search-and-destroy mission, or subjecting yourself to the potential risk of being stung during the day, we recommend dealing with carpenter bees long before they’ve woken from their winter slumber. Specifically, the onset of spring is an ideal time to begin looking for, and plugging, any existing carpenter bee nests. Because activity levels are so low during the hibernation period, the potential for being stung or harassed here is much lower. Additionally, this is also a prime opportunity to set up our Best Bee Brothers Carpenter Bee Traps. By offering carpenter bees a ready-made “nest,” you can often prevent them from inflicting any structural damage to your home, and handle the problem before it begins.
- Brooke Borel, “Do Insects Sleep?,” Popular Science, March 26, 2014, https://www.popsci.com/blog-network/our-modern-plagues/do-insects-sleep/. J
- Adriana Copaceanu, “What Time Do Bees Wake Up? And Why You Should Care,” Backyard Garden Lover, November 7, 2021, https://www.backyardgardenlover.com/what-time-do-bees-wake-up/.
- Barret A. Klein and Thomas D Seeley, “Work or Sleep? Honeybee Foragers Opportunistically Nap during the Day When Forage Is Not Available,” Animal Behaviour 82, no. 1 (July 2011): 77–83, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.anbehav.2011.03.026.