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Carpenter Bees

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Date:  April 9, 2021
Agent:  Donna Teasley

Hello, this is Donna Teasley, horticulture agent with the North Çarolina Cooperative Extension, Burke Center.

Carpenter bees are beginning to appear and homeowners who are unlucky enough to have these pests around are starting to call the office about how to control them.

Carpenter bees, so named because of their habit of tunneling into wood are tough to control. Males and females overwinter in last year’s tunnels. They mate and the male dies. The female starts drilling tunnels to build a nest in. She gathers pollen and stores it in the tunnel and then lays her eggs. She is last year’s generation and she is the one who is destructive. The new bees hatch in about seven weeks and live inside the nest eating the stored pollen until August when they emerge and start gathering pollen. This generation are next year’s trouble makers.

Sprays are ineffective because carpenter bees don’t eat wood, they just tunnel through it. Sevin dust can be puffed into the tunnels while bees are nesting and then sealed with caulk. This will kill next year’s population as they hatch. It’s a time consuming job and many times just too difficult to do. A badminton racket to swat the bees with is pretty effective. They are easily killed and if infestations aren’t huge, this method can help reduce the numbers of bees.

There’s no perfect solution and if you live in a wooden structure, it’s best to be prepared to do battle with these seasonal pests.

This is Donna Teasley with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Burke Center. If you would like more information about this program you can call us at 439-4460.