This season alone, Best Bee Brothers has received hundreds of calls from people ready to pull out their hair due to the destruction of carpenter bees. Understandably, preventing and treating carpenter bees can seem like a daunting task. Even though the initial nesting season is over, you can still prevent future carpenter bees occupancy during the remaining summer months. The key to carpenter bee prevention is treating carpenter bee nests. Although mating season is over, carpenter bees continue to build their nests and produce their young throughout the summer. Any nest you see, old or new, must be treated immediately. To successfully treat a carpenter bee nest you must force the bees out and kill the larva.
Over the past season we have heard many people talk about using liquid pesticides to treat the nests. However, liquid pesticides will not work well on females or larva. Since females do not digest any of the wood, but rather use their mandibles to vibrate against the wood, it is not likely the liquid will do the job. As for the larva, since they are nesting in elaborate side chambers it is doubtful the spray will be able to reach the larva.
After reading ‘About Carpenter Bees & Nesting Habits’ you would have learned carpenter bees have a small section of fur above their abdomen. If you use a pesticide in the form of a powder, it will stick to their fur causing the carpenter bee to clean itself and ingest the pesticide. Additionally, once you puff the powder down the hole you will see bees exit in a matter of hours and the larva will be taken care of.
If you do not want to use any pesticides, we recommend using a mineral called Diatomaceous Earth. This is a mineral found in fossils, which will dry up the larva.
Once the nest no longer has any active carpenter bees, it is time to prevent bees from claiming the home for the rest of the summer/fall and even next spring. There are several contradictory sources that say you should wait to plug up the holes until the fall. However, leaving nests untouched for an entire summer can cause more damage as it may attract the unwanted attention of woodpeckers who will take the damage from bad to awful in a matter of days. Woodpeckers absolutely love carpenter bee larva and will peck away at the nests (aka your home!) trying to get their tasty treat.
For the task of actually sealing up the hole, we recommend using steel wool and wood putty. First plug the hole with steel wool, it is malleable and bees can’t chew through it. Next, use the wood putty to smooth over the face of the hole so it is once again flush with the rest of the exterior. Make sure you wear your gardening gloves; the females give a nasty sting if you aren’t careful.
The best time to plug up the hole is during the day, at night all the carpenter bees who live in the nest will come back to their home. Once the carpenter bee's nests are plugged up, the bees will become more attracted to the Best Bee Trap for the rest of the season.
By the end of summer and early fall, the male carpenter bees who have yet to find a mate will become more active as their instinct to find a home for winter increases. This final hunt for a home begins a second carpenter bee season. During this time it is highly likely many of the males will find their way to the unplugged nests for an easy and safe home. They detect a pheromone smell that is released by dead carpenter bees to guide them to pre-existing nests or potential holes that could turn into nests. While the males don’t cause the level of damage females do, it is important you catch those who are looking to find a home in your home.
To maintain a carpenter bee free home, proactive prevention is the simplest approach. Hanging Best Bee Traps up at the beginning of spring is the easiest and best prevention method. If the carpenter bees build nests during the spring and summer months, immediate action is necessary to prevent the destruction and the attraction of other pests. Be sure to keep your traps up until fall to conquer the small second season.
Now, go treat those carpenter bee nests while there is plenty of summer!