Carpenter Bees Are Expert Drillers
Carpenter bees can cause damage and distress.


Over 500 species of carpenter bees exist, but the most common one found in Warwick and throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey is the Eastern carpenter bee. These bees are often mistaken for bumblebees because of their similar appearance. Although excellent pollinators, carpenter bees can cause enormous structural destruction due to their predisposition toward burrowing through wood.

A carpenter bee hive that remains unnoticed for years can cause extensive damage that may pose a safety hazard. 


Growing to between ½” to 1” long, the eastern carpenter bee’s body has a slightly metallic sheen that may appear green, purple, or blue-black. The color of the bee simply depends on how the sunlight is reflecting off of it at the time. Although commonly mistaken for bumblebees, carpenter bees do not have much fur on their abdomen. Male carpenter bees do not have stingers, while the females do. Males also have white on their head, while females do not.


Carpenter bees feed on pollen and nectar. They do not eat the wood they chew. The wood is removed to make way for the tunnels in their hives, which they augment on a regular basis. Carpenter bees sometimes engage in a foraging technique called, “Nectar Robbing.” This is when holes are bitten in flowers to access the flower’s nectar, as opposed to accessing the nectar through the flower’s more natural openings.


Although they have their favorite types of wood, eastern carpenter bees will bore through such things as fence posts, walls, tree trunks, lumber, wooden shingles, or wooden eaves, to create hives and remain relatively undisturbed. Their wood preferences include cypress, redwood, pine, and cedar.


Carpenter bees usually do not pose a threat to humans, though they can cause damage to wooden structures such as homes and offices. They often damage the wood on overhangs, walls, shingles, eaves, shutters, decks, benches, sheds, etc. Hives can house large populations of bees who can create tunnels that are up to ten feet in length. Carpenter bees return to their nesting site again and again, which can cause even more damage. Home insurance often does not cover damage caused by carpenter bees. In addition to the holes that carpenter bees create, they also make the property unsightly and stained.


Although male carpenter bees do not have the capability to sting, they will guard the nest. They will attack male bees from other hives that attempt to enter to mate with the females. They will also hover and buzz humans that come to close to the hive.

Conversely, the female eastern carpenter bee is equipped with a stinger and will sting humans that pose a threat to the hive Unlike other bees, carpenter bees do not have an organized communal colony.

Over the winter, carpenter bees spend time in the tunnels they have created. Males emerge and mate in the spring, and then die. Carpenter bee larvae take between 5-7 weeks to become adults. Carpenter bees live up to one year, creating one new generation every season.


Unlike many insects, carpenter bees do not transmit diseases to humans. The sting of a female carpenter bee, can, however, cause an allergic reaction that causes hives, swelling, redness, discomfort and great pain. In the event of a sting, people who are extremely allergic to bee venom should receive care right away. Anaphylactic shock can be fatal and those who are susceptible should carry an Epi-Pen, which is a vessel for epinephrine used to counteract the effects of the bee sting.


One sign of an infestation is the existence of several carpenter bees at a time. Noise may also be heard such as buzzing within the walls, humming or chewing sounds. Other possible indicators include piles of wood shavings where the bees are chewing and building their nests, yellow-brown waste, and holes in wood that are about a ¼” to ½” in diameter. 


Completely preventing a carpenter bee infestation is a challenge for home and business owners. Eastern carpenter bees have been known to attack wood that has been treated, but it is a good first step to treat - and paint - any untreated wood on the property. Carpenter bees rarely attack painted wood because they are typically unable to recognize it as wood.


While carpenter bees are helpful pollinators that are welcome in flower gardens, orchards and farm fields, they should not be allowed to build nests in manmade structures. Once these holes appear, the structure becomes vulnerable to successive generations of carpenter bees in addition to other far more destructive pests.

Treating for carpenter bees requires particular knowledge and experience. Treatments involve locating and dealing off tunnel holes, followed with the use of specialized dusts and insecticides designed for easy transmittal throughout the colony.

Eradication of a carpenter bee infestation in or around any Warwick home or office should be left to a licensed pest control professional.

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A Division Of Newtown Termite & Pest Control, Inc.
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