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How to get rid of carpenter bees?

In general, bees are indeed important to the ecosystem, but the carpenter bee is far from beneficial to your wooden structures.

December 30, 2021

32 min read time

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More than 20,000 species of bees exist on earth, and one of such species is the carpenter bee.

In general, bees are indeed important to the ecosystem, but the carpenter bee is far from beneficial to your wooden structures.

This is because your wooden structure serves as their nesting spot. And as you can imagine, they have to bore holes into it before it can become suitable enough to lay eggs and take shelter. It is common to find carpenter bees in fascia boards, doorposts, and window frames.

Over time, carpenter bee activities will cause damage, which will cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars in repair or replacement.

If you have carpenter bees in your house, then keep reading.

In this article, we’ll be giving you useful tips on how to get rid of carpenter bees.

What to Know About Carpenter Bees

Going by the size of carpenter bees, you may misjudge them to be bumblebees—one of the major differences between the two lies in their nesting habits.

Bumblebees nests in the soil, while carpenter bees prefer to nest in the wooden structure.

Among their choices for nesting sites are soft garden trees, decayed trees, and old tree stumps. They can also enter your house if the wood on your furniture is soft or damp.

Multiple carpenter bee holes will leave your wood weakened over time.

Similar to bumblebees, carpenter bees are territorial insects. The males are the first line of defense against any possible intruders.

They usually hover outside the nest and keep an eye out for invaders, including other bees. It would interest you to know that male carpenter bees do not have stingers.

Female carpenter bees have stingers, and they act as the second and last line of defense. A female carpenter bee will use its stinger to protect its nest against intruders who have already made their way in.

If they are not threatened, they may not attack.

What Do Carpenter Bees Look Like?

As we have mentioned before, it is easy to confuse carpenter bees with bumblebees. Knowing exactly what a carpenter bee looks like is the first step in getting rid of them.

A carpenter bee is about one inch in length, and its bodies have yellow and black patterns.

Their bodies also give off a metal-like reflection in several colors. These include yellow, purple, green, and dark blue.

A carpenter bee has a smooth, shiny abdomen, while bumblebees have very hairy abdomens.

Why Would Carpenter Bees Enter My House?

Carpenter bees like to nest in softwood.

Their favorite options would be dead or decayed wood. But just like all outdoor insects, they can seek shelter in your building if outdoor weather becomes unfavorable.

Insects, in general, do not like cold, so they wouldn’t want to be caught outside during the winter season.

As the cold approaches, they will begin looking for suitable environments to dig holes and nest. If your building has what they need in terms of shelter, they will enter and begin to build their nests inside wooden holes. They will spend the winter in their nests and re-emerge in the spring.

The females will subsequently lay eggs and birth a new set of carpenter bees inside the holes.

Their activities can damage your property, and significant sums of money have to be spent on repair or replacement.

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Do Carpenter Bees Attack People?

All bee species are territorial, and they are known to defend their nests viscously. However, these pests do not attack people if they are not under threat.

Male carpenter bees do not have stingers, but the females do, which is why you should protect yourself as you approach an infested area.

A long-sleeved shirt, a pair of gloves, and a net-hat will do.

How To Tell If You Have Carpenter Bees In Your House

Carpenter bees love soft or damp wood because they are easy to dig through. They are also very private creatures, so they spend a lot of time inside their nests.

However, there are several ways by which you can tell you have a carpenter bee infestation.

Below are a few signs that you have carpenter bees in your building.

1. Carpenter Bee Holes In Wooden Structure

If you suspect you have carpenter bees inside, the first things you should look out for are carpenter bee holes in your wooden structure.

Carpenter bees prefer soft or damp wood. Therefore, you can begin your search around structures of that nature.

The cabinet under your sink, for instance. If it is damp, then it’s a good option for carpenter bees to build a nest.

Weak door and window posts are also excellent nesting environments for carpenter bees. Termites may have previously weakened these posts’ interior, and carpenter bees can take advantage of the already existing holes.

Go around and inspect your indoor wood for carpenter bee holes. Mark the areas where you spot holes, so you will know exactly where you will apply the treatment.

2. Wood Dust On The Floor

Like termites, carpenter bees leave behind heaps of wood dust after digging holes in wood.

If you find heaps of wood dust on the floor close to holes in your furniture, then you may have a carpenter bee problem on your hands.

3. Buzzing Sounds In Your Wood

Seeing wood dust on the floor is a possible sign of having carpenter bees in your home furniture. However, it isn’t a definite sign, being that termites can also leave wood dust behind.

A better pointer to carpenter bee infestation would be buzzing sounds coming from inside your wooden structure.

Termites also make sounds as they eat through wood, but it’s not the same as a bee’s buzz.

You can place your ears close to the structure and listen attentively. If you hear buzzing sounds coming from within your wood, then there are carpenter bees in there.

How Do You Keep Carpenter Bees Away?

As we have pointed out earlier, carpenter bees can enter your home in search of shelter and protection from the winter’s cold

Luckily, getting rid of carpenter bees is easy.

Follow the tips below.

1. Install Screens By Your Doors And Windows

Allowing some outdoor air coming into your living room is great, but if there are no screens installed by the windows and doors, then it wouldn’t just be the air that’s coming in.

An unguarded window or door is a gateway for intruding pests to enter your house. Carpenter bees included.

One of the best ways to prevent carpenter bee populations from entering your house is installing door and window screens.

The screen should be tightly woven, so an insect as small as a carpenter bee can be prevented from entering.

2. Keep Your Indoor Wood Dry And Hard

Carpenter bees are attracted to softwood, and one of the reasons your indoor wood may be soft is dampness.

It is common to find carpenter bee holes in soft woodwork, and that’s why they prefer it.

If you have leakages in areas such as the kitchen or bathroom, the woodwork in those areas may be affected.

The solution here is simple. To keep carpenter bees away, make sure you keep all your woodwork dry and firm, so the pests won’t be able to dig holes in it.

The first thing to do is to fix the cause of dampness. If it’s a leaking pipe, be sure to call a plumber to help you with it. You can also leave your windows and doors open more often to allow some extra air to come in.

Remember to guard them with screens before leaving them open. If not, other pests will enter.

Proper airflow will help reduce indoor moisture, hence keeping the woodwork dry. If the wood in your building becomes unattractive to female carpenter bees, they won’t bother building their nest in them.

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3. Treat Your Wood

The kind of wood carpenter bees prefer is untreated or exposed wood. If you have any such wood in your house, then carpenter bees will be attracted and boreholes in them.

To make your indoor wood less attractive, make sure you paint your wood. Painted wood would be more difficult for the bees to penetrate.

If you don’t want to paint, then you can have the wood treated using other substances. Please do not use a harmful insecticide, as it can kill the bees.

Once the carpenter bees do not fancy the wood anymore, they will search for more suitable wood to dig holes and lay their eggs.

4. Play Loud Music

Believe it or not, carpenter bees and the old lady next door have something in common – They hate loud music!

If there are bees nested in your wooden structures, you can chase them away using loud music.

All you need to do is put on your favorite songs and have the speakers placed close to the bee holes. Do this for 3 to 4 days, and the carpenter bees will eventually get the message.

They’ll be gone once they are sure that the environment is no longer peaceful for them to live.

5. Use Less Wood

Wood is an important part of any building construction. It is also a big part of your home’s interior décor. Nonetheless, a simple way to reduce the carpenter bee population in your building would limit the amount of wood you use.

A limited amount of indoor wood means the carpenter bees would have fewer nesting options. This is not to say that all indoor wood must be removed; it just means that you can replace some of the wooden furniture with others that have no wood.

Take a center table, for instance; you really don’t need to buy one that’s made of wood. One with a steel frame and a glass top is an ideal replacement.

6. Discard Infested Furniture

When carpenter bees nest inside your furniture, they reproduce and birth other generations of bees. The young bees will dig new tunnels inside the same piece of furniture and cause more damage it.

Sorry to say this, but keeping such furniture would cause you more harm than good. If their population keeps growing, some will exit the old piece of furniture and look for new ones to tunnel through.

For this reason, you should get rid of any piece of wooden furniture that has been infested beyond saving.

You can take the infested furniture outside and have a waste disposal professional take it away. By doing this, you have gotten rid of more than one generation of carpenter bees in your home.

You indeed lost a piece of furniture, but it’s better than having the other pieces damaged from future carpenter bee activity.

7. Trap The Bees

Another effective method of keeping carpenter bees away from your furniture is by trapping them.

Carpenter bees may nest in your wood, but they have to go out from time to time searching for food. Among their favorite dishes are plant pollen and nectar. You can use this information against them and set a trap.

To make a bee trap, you will need a few common items.

• A two-liter plastic bottle

• A pair of scissors or box cutter

• A stapler

• A screwdriver

• A string

• Some maple syrup

When you’ve gathered these items, you can start making your bee trap.

There’s one thing you need to keep in mind, though. Bees are very beneficial insects to the ecosystem, so killing them is not advised. It would be best if you use a no-kill trap to catch them.

Here’s how to use the items listed above to make a no-kill carpenter bee trap.

Use the box cutter to split the plastic bottle in two. Make the cut from the upper part where the bottle begins to form a funnel-like shape. That’s a few inches below the top.

Pour a little amount of maple syrup into the bottom part of the bottle. This will serve as bait and will attract the carpenter bees to your home-made trap.

Now take the top part of the bottle you have just cut off and turn it upside down. Place it into the rest of the bottle, so it looks exactly like a funnel.

Use the screwdriver to pierce one hole on each opposite side of the bottle, then fix the string in between. The holes should be made near the top of the bottle to have balance when strung up.

The string would be useful if you want to hang the trap high up the ground.

If you want to place the trap on the floor or a platform, then you wouldn’t need the strings. Whatever the case, be sure to place the trap in an area where the carpenter bees can easily reach.

The trick here is simple. As the carpenter bees perceive the maple syrup, they will make their way into the trap. But unfortunately for them, they wouldn’t be able to fly out.

Remember, you want this to be a no-kill trap, so you shouldn’t add too much maple syrup into the bottle. If you do, the bees will drown.

If you don’t have maple syrup, there are other things you can try for bait. You can make a simple sugar and water solution. Bees like sweet-tasting foods, so they’ll be equally attracted to it.

You can also try some artificial sweeteners.

After you have caught a good number of bees, take the trap outside and let them loose. Set the trap again and wait for another catch.

Remember not to leave the bees in the bottle for more than a day. If you do, they will suffocate and die. The goal here is to remove them, not kill them.

8. Call A Professional Pest Control Service

Some people would rather not take the DIY approach, especially if they have a phobia of insects. If you’re one of such people, calling a professional pest control service would be the best way to get rid of carpenter bees.

A pest control professional has more than enough experience dealing with pests of all sorts, including carpenter bees.

All you need to do is invite them into your house and have them inspect the infested areas. They would know the best extermination approach to take after assessing the situation.

Hiring a pest control professional will cost you more, but the bee problem will be solved.

What Is A Natural Way To Get Rid Of Carpenter Bees?

The quick and easy way to kill a bee would be to use an insecticide. However, killing bees is not advised, so you can scrap the thought of using one.

But who says you need an insecticide?

Just like other pests, there are some natural substances that carpenter bees don’t like. Try any one of these natural remedies below to treat a carpenter bee infestation.

1. Citrus

Using citrus for carpenter bee infestations is much better than using an insecticide. In general, Bees hate the smell, and there are different ways by which you can apply it.

You can get some lemons or oranges and squeeze the juice into a bowl. Take the bowl to the areas where the bees have infested and sprinkle the citrus juice directly into their holes.

They can’t stand the citrus smell, so they will quickly exit their tunnels.

You can also mix citrus juice with some water and pour it into a spray bottle for more precise application. Make sure the solution is well blended before you add it to the spray.

Visit the woodwork where the carpenter bees are infested with the spray bottle and apply it into the holes and tunnels. You can also spray across the surface of the wood to repel the bees.

2. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is another natural substance that can be used in place of a chemical insecticide.

Keep in mind that a high concentration of vinegar may kill the bees, and that’s not what you want. You can dilute apple cider vinegar with water to reduce its effects.

Pour the solution into a spray bottle and apply directly inside the holes and tunnels.

Do Carpenter Bees Hate Cold Temperatures?

Yes, carpenter bees do not like cold temperatures, so they build tunnels where they would hide during the winter season.

They can also enter your house in search of shelter during cold seasons.

Can Essential Oils Be Used To Get Rid Of Carpenter Bees?

Yes, the scent of essential oils can be used to deter carpenter bees.

Among these essential oils are citrus oil, peppermint oil, and chamomile. You can make a solution using any of these oils and spray around the wood surfaces and the holes and tunnels.

How To Stop Carpenter Bees From Entering My Home In The First Place?

The best way to handle carpenter bees is to keep them from entering in the first place. And the best time to take preventive measures is before the winter months.

During the winter months, you can spray around your home with any of the natural bee repellants mentioned in this article to prevent an infestation.

Make sure you spray around the entire perimeter of your home for the best results.

Don’t forget that carpenter bees are good diggers, and they can tunnel from one side of your doorpost through the other. For this reason, it would be a good idea to spray your door and window posts before the bees arrive.

You can use an organic bee repellent spray to prevent them from coming close to your home. Organic bee repellents are sold in pest control stores.

If you prefer a home-made approach, then spray your door and window posts with a citrus solution.

Another carpenter bee prevention tip is installing window and door screens.

The weaves on the screen should be small enough to prevent the carpenter bees from squeezing through.

Maintaining a healthy garden can also help. Apart from the ones born in your home, most carpenter bees come from the softwood outside your house. Sources of outdoor carpenter bees include dead or decayed woodpiles.

If these piles are close to your house, the bees may be tempted to enter inside.

It would help if you cleared out old wood piles to reduce the carpenter bee population in your yard.


Carpenter bees may be useful to the eco-system, but they can cause damage to your wooden structures.

Thankfully, there are several ways by which you can stop them from entering your home and prevent an infestation. But if they have already made their way in, there are also removal methods you can try.

Remember not to kill the bees while you’re at it. Any removal method you choose should drive them away and not kill them. Calling a pest control service is another option.

Hopefully, this article on how to get rid of carpenter bees has been helpful.

Good luck!

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