ABOUT CARPENTER BEES
The most common carpenter bee found in Pennsylvania and New Jersey is the eastern carpenter bee. While beneficial to the environment due to their role as flower pollinators, homes and businesses in this area can be subjected to structural damage because of their wood-boring nesting habits.
Over a period of years, if left alone, carpenter bees will redesign their nests by enlarging tunnels and entryways. If a colony has nested within an office or home, this can mean extensive damage.
Carpenter bees are often mistaken for bumblebees because they are similar in size, carpenter bees have a slightly metallic, purplish tint. Females have a wider head, while the males have longer bodies and sometimes a white mark on their face. Ranging in size from ¼” to 1” long, carpenter bees are either black or yellow.
Carpenter bees eat pollen and nectar, they do not eat wood. Carpenter bees got their name because they chew through wood and either use it for partitions in their hives, or remove it while building tunnels. They prefer cedar and pine but will nest in anything similar to wood. Larvae are fed with a combination of regurgitated nectar and pollen. Carpenter bees are known for their “nectar robbing.” This involves the bee piercing the corolla of long-tubed flowers and “robbing” the nectar without actually coming into contact with the flower’s anthers. This process bypasses pollination altogether.
Eastern carpenter bees bore into wood to create their nests. They have been known to burrow into tree trunks, wooden walls (as in homes and office buildings), lumber, fence posts, and more. They prefer cedar, cypress, redwood, and pine.
PROBLEMS WITH CARPENTER BEES
Due to their wood-boring capabilities, carpenter bees have the potential to cause extensive damage to things such as decks, shutters, benches, overhangs, eaves, shingles, walls, and more. While most tunnels they dig are around 4-6” long, when housing many bees, these tunnels can reach as long as 10’. When a female carpenter bee lays eggs, they will return to their nesting site annually, potentially causing more and more damage from year to year. Structural integrity is rare but possible, and most home insurance will not cover this damage.
Male carpenter bees assume the responsibility of guarding the nest to ensure that other males do not reproduce with the female. They will also “attack” a human that comes close to a hive by hovering and buzzing near the person’s head. While they are biologically unable to sting, they create an annoyance. The female, on the other hand, does possesses the ability to sting, and will sting a human if they feel threatened.
Carpenter bees do not transmit disease as some insects do. However, bee stings from females can create an allergic reaction which, in turn, can cause a person to go into anaphylactic shock. This type of allergic reaction is especially severe, and many people carry epinephrine pens to counter an allergic reaction such as this if one does occur. The allergic reaction is caused by the venom released into the person’s body while being stung. Most people that are stung will suffer pain, hives, itching, and swelling. However, for those that are allergic, if medical help is not sought immediately, the person can suffer difficulty breathing, and in some cases, death.
SIGNS OF A CARPENTER BEE INFESTATION
It might be difficult to tell if you have a carpenter bee problem but there are some things to look for including pollen stains below bee-sized holes, piles of wood shavings, and yellowish brown excrement stains. It is also possible to hear them within the walls. These chewing sounds come from the bees chewing through the wood and moving around. To be sure, contact your local professional pest control service so they can perform a thorough inspection of your home or business.
The best way to prevent a carpenter bee infestation is by calling your local pest control provider such as SafeGuard Pest Control, LLC to perform an inspection and regular maintenance. However, steps can be taken to help prevent against carpenter bees from burrowing into wooden structures. The best step to take is to treat untreated wood by applying wood stain or a polyurethane or oil-base paint.
CARPENTER BEES CONTROL
The process of eradicating a carpenter bee infestation in or around a home or office requires the knowledge and experience of a pest control provider such as SafeGuard. Treatments include using dusts and insecticides that are not available to the general public and should be used only by experienced and licensed pest control professionals. Locating and sealing off tunnel holes, followed by injecting a combination of powerful insecticide dusts for easy transmittal throughout the colony is also necessary.
Once enough time has passed for the transmittal of the treatment, the carpenter bee holes are plugged to avoid enticing other carpenter bees to settle there.
Carpenter bees can cause annoyance, frustration, and serious health issues in individuals that are allergic to their sting.