Carpenter Bees

Carpenter bees, lifecycle, female and male bees

How to kill and prevent carpenter bees from entering your garden

Carpenter Bees

Carpenter Bees.

Only the other day I noticed some huge bees in my garden and then realized they were carpenter bees.

My thought process was to understand these bees in order to remove them from my garden. I was left thinking: Will they sting? And how do earth do I get rid of them? Is there a spiritual reason they have entered my garden? So here I am giving you all the information on these bees in one place. Carpenter bees can be segmented into two types of species. Normally found in North America. There are both large and small bees. The larger carpenter bees scientifically are known as (Xylocopa) which in Latin for “the woodcutter” these bees are commonly mistaken for a bumblebee. They have a black shiny abdomen, rather than a hairy abdomen which is found on common bumblebees. But, the Carpenter bee does look similar to a bumblebee. The smaller carpenter bee is known as (ceratina) hopefully, further down this article you will be able to identify which carpenter bee you have as a resident in your garden. The first question is what do they look like?

Carpenter Bee

The large carpenter bee to be known as Xylocopa.

We can distinguish the larger carpenter bee because they are between 10 to 25 mm long they are a similar size to a normal bumblebee. The carpenter bee can be a range of colors from green, black, metallic blue or even purple. The distinction between a male and female is that the male carpenter bee generally has yellow stripes or sections on its face. Unlike bumblebees, the larger carpenter bee does not have any hair on its stomach area. Carpenter bees generally bore into wood, the female often produces a few baby bees once a year. 

carpenterbee-vs-bumblebee

Carpenter bee vs Bumblebee: If you didn’t know by now, carpenter bees got their name from their habit of boring into wood to create galleries for the rearing of babies. They’re everywhere around the world representing even 7 species in the United States. Carpenter bees are seen as solitary bees as they don’t have a hive as honey bees. And not to forget, they’re always mistaken for bumblebees. But there are huge differences between the two types of bees. For example, bumble bees don’t nest in the wood but on the ground. Carpenter bees have a blue-black or violet metallic or green sheen with a shiny, almost naked abdomen. Bumblebees, on the other hand, have a fuzzy abdomen with soft hair covering their body. Also, they’re colored in a mix of yellow and black.

As I have already mentioned, the carpenter bee is considered a “solitary bee.” They live alone and they don’t sting unless they feel endangered. Each female is fertile and they make holes or move into old ones to lay eggs in cells. The bumblebees, on the other hand, live in hives where they produce wax and honey. They will sting you if they see you as a threat to their hive. Otherwise, they will ignore your existence. Of course, not to forget the queen bee which we don’t have with carpenter bees!

What is the Eastern carpenter bee? The Eastern carpenter bee is also known asXylocopa virginica. They spread through Eastern America and Canada and take residence in different types of wood. They feed on pollen and nectar, and they are similar to other bee species, but the only difference is (as I mentioned before) the lack of queen in their hives. The bees who is responsible for foraging, reproduction and nest construction are the dominant females and their daughters.

Male vs female carpenter bee

Male vs female carpenter bees: Male and female carpenter bees are very different. For start, the males have a white or cream-colored spot on their head, and the females don’t. They also have a white nose on their face. Females lack the nose but fill the gap with stingers. Males don’t have stingers and have a yellow face, while the females’ face is black. The average body length of an adult carpenter bee is about ½ to 1 inch. 

How do you get rid of carpenter bees? Carpenter bees are not as aggressive as the “normal” bumblebee, they don’t terrorize you and as the male does not sting they are not what I call “aggressive” Carpenter bees eat wood and create neat boreholes to craft their nesting area, just like the carpenter ants do. If you want to get rid of the carpenter bees in a non-toxic, harmless way then this is what I will explain. I have come up with some home remedies that might come in handy. As a lover of nature, it is important instead of killing the bees, it is important to try to get rid of them in an eco-friendly way.

Have I mentioned the carpenter bees are not aggressive at all? It’s one more reason on the list why you should go with the friendly ways of getting rid of them. Not to forget that they sting if they sense danger or feel a quick movement, especially the males. Carpenter bees are often discouraged from wood surfaces by painting with oil-based paint. You

  • Vacum cleaner: Use your vacuum cleaner to get rid of carpenter bees from wood. You put it over the openings or holes and just vacuum up the bees. After, release the bees away from your home with care. This remedy works best if the nest is brand new.
  • Make some noise: It sounds strange but carpenter bees are frightened by the noise. They can’t tolerate it, thus, you can use this to throw them out of your home. You can set up a sound box or boom box adjacent to their holes. This way you will force them to fly away far.
  • Vinyl siding: Another effective way to keep the carpenter bees away from your home is by using vinyl siding. It will keep your home protected because it has a non-wooden surface that can’t be damaged by carpenter bees or any other insects of any kind.
  • Citrus spray: Just like other insects, carpenter bees are feeling repulsive to citrus oil. Therefore, you can use it to scare them away. Spray citrus sprays on the affected area. You can go with the specifically designed spray for carpenter bees or craft one of your own.
  • It’s simple. Take any of the citrus fruit such as grapefruit, lemon, orange, or lime and let it boil in a shallow pot filled with water. After, you put the content in a spray bottle.
  • Almond oil: You can make use of almond essence or almond oil to scare away the carpenter bees. Just like they do about citrus, they also feel repulsion about the almond oil.
  • Paint: To keep the bees away, you might have to repaint the outdoor wooden surfaces of your home. Remember, they don’t eat the wood, but simply dig tunnels for creating their own shelters. Meaning, you don’t have to kill them but only scare them away.  
  • Hardwood: The structure of hardwood is denser than softwood. Meaning, you can use cherry, oak, or ash wood to scare the bees away. They’re very popular among homeowners. It’s always better to prevent things from happening instead dealing with them after.

Can you use WD-40 on carpenter bees? If you use this method you will kill the carpenter bees – just so you know. As I have given you an overview of certain other ways to get rid of carpenter bees above I don’t feel it is entity human to use WD-40. Making a trap from a bottle is much better. Or pop to Amazon and buy a carpenter bee trap. As you probably know, WD-40 is a penetrating oil and water-displacing spray coming from a company of the same name. It’s used for moisture and lubrication protection, but it’s used for domestic purposes as well as my squeaky exercise bike which resolves little annoying things like this. Many people have got rid of carpenter bees using WD-40. Apparently, the oil has a low level of viscosity which enables it to stick to a surface. This makes it perfect for lubricating and protecting mechanical parts. You can also use it to get moisture or water out of the wrong places. Or loosen rusted things like jammed zippers, bolts or screws. Many people have claimed that WD-40 kills carpenter bees away, however, to confirm this, we have to check the lubricant’s composition. And guess what? The exact formula of this oil is kept secret, but for safety reasons, they have released a list of chemicals they use for making the spray. Thus, we have found out that it contains petroleum-based oil, aliphatic hydrocarbons, low vapor pressure aliphatic hydrocarbon, and carbon dioxide. Considering this, there’s no doubt that WD-40 can kill carpenter bees if they’re directly exposed to it. Most of these compounds are extremely harmful to insects, especially the petroleum-based oil which is confirmed to be deadly to all bugs.

Carpenter bee facts:

What are carpenter bees? Carpenter bees are large, black bees and they generally originate from late-spring to early summer, hovering around the outside of your home. At this time, they’re probably searching for mates and good places to construct their nests. The males keep the nest protected and act aggressively when they uncover danger. They’re harmless though. The females, on the other hand, might inflict a sting if they’re handled. They take over abandoned nest tunnels during winter, and emerge in the spring, somewhere between April and May. After the mating process, the females lay their eggs in the excavated wooden tunnels. The entrances assemble perfectly rounded holes with a diameter of your finger. Another interesting fact about these bees is that they’re more into the wood which is unpainted, bare and weathered. The best way to prevent your home from getting “attacked” by these bees is with repainting.

Do carpenter bees make honey? No, but the carpenter bees are important pollinators in many gardens, native plant communities and in some corps, they’re not honey-makers. What they do is transfer the pollen as they move from one plant to another to feed themselves on nectar. 

Are carpenter bees endangered? No. According to the latest research, carpenter bees aren’t endangered. However, most people see them as termites when in fact they’re only looking for a place to raise their babies. Let’s not make them an endangered type. Instead of taking radical measures that will kill them, chose one of the harmless ways to scare them away. We’ve already mentioned a few so far and will throw more solutions along the way.

Carpenter bee cycle: You know by now that we’re talking about large, solitary insects that got their name from their unusual nesting habits. The fertilized females excavate a tunnel into the wood in order to lay down their eggs. There are 4 stages of carpenter’s bee cycle: egg, larva, pula and finally – adult. This whole transformation takes seven weeks tops.

What are the best carpenter bee traps? The main principle of a carpenter bee trap is based on the fact that these insects drill into an already existing hole most of the time. You put the ready trap with holes on each side and allow then sight to lure the bees. Once they enter the trap through the tempting holes, they’ll move toward the light at the end of the tunnel because insects usually follow a light. We will mention 2 of the most popular traps for carpenter bees:

The Carpenter bee trap: The usual Carpenter bee collector is built of glass and the fitting indicates a metallic chain, therefore, increasing the mounting performance. The manufacturers provide a few upgrades on the collector. Meaning, the carpenter bee trap can be turned into a trap for yellow jackets and wasps too. Some of the secret ingredients are soda and soap, however, this bait isn’t the only way you can go with to get rid of these bees.

The plastic bottle carpenter bee trap: The plastic bottle trap costs around $20 and seems pretty effective according to customer reviews on Amazon. Homeowners claim that wooden traps in a vertical position are more effective than the catcher, but why use these costly traps when you can choose one of the cheap and harmless ways we suggest down below.

How do you get rid of carpenter bees without killing them? As I have mentioned a couple times now, carpenter bees don’t feed on your wood but nest in it, meaning they’re not trying to harm you in any way. Unfortunately, some people see them as a threat because of their habit to return to their old shelter every spring in ever greater numbers. If you have the same problem, feel free to use some of the following solutions to get rid of them without killing even one:

  • Use hardwoods for building – they’re not into hardwoods that much.
  • Keep your outbuildings closed – especially during spring when you usually begin gardening projects and they’re looking for a place to build their nests. 
  • Paint everything made out of wood – they prefer bare and unpainted wood.
  • Plug their old nests – it will show them that they’re not welcome anymore.
  • Build a decoy – lure them to a sacrificial hanging piece of softwood (cedar, pine) and help them crash at your place without actually crashing the place.

Do carpenter bees sting? Only the females sting. The male carpenter bee is not deemed as being aggressive and only the female bees can actually sting. Female bees are often not very aggressive and only sting when handled.

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