Many people mistake carpenter bees for bumble bees. Whereas bumble bees have a hairy yellow and black appearance, carpenter bees have a shiny black shell and may have bright yellow, orange, or white hairs on their thorax (the portion of the body between the head and abdomen).
Carpenter bees are active from the early spring through summer, and are known for drilling nearly perfectly round holes in wooden surfaces such as house siding, eaves, window trim, etc. that are about 1/4 of an inch in diameter.
When you encounter a carpenter bee, it will most likely be male — it can be identified by a white or yellow marking on the head. Male carpenters are very territorial and protective of the nest, so they tend to hover near the nest and attack intruders. However, this aggression is a bluff as they have no stingers, making them harmless.
Unlike males, females have stingers. Although they have the ability, they are much less aggressive than males, and will only sting if directly provoked. This is because they are mainly preoccupied with foraging and protecting the entrance to their nest.
Did you know…
Carpenter bees don’t eat the wood. To drill the holes, the bees vibrate their bodies while their mandibles scrape at the wood. The particles are either discarded or used to build partitions to cells.
What you should do…
Unpainted, exposed wood is very attractive to a carpenter bee. To help prevent nesting, paint the surface with an oil-based or polyurethane paint.
The best way to treat nests is to call a professional since each hole will require individual treatment.
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