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12 Carpenter Bee Facts You Didn’t Learn in School

Close up of carpenter bee's head.

A carpenter bee nest puts homeowners in a state of panic. Bees play a vital role in food production, and they pollenate the world we live in. Killing bees, unless an absolute necessity, should be avoided.

But if there is an infestation, you may have no other choice but to get rid of them.

Facts will help you learn more about the insect invading your space, and it puts a new perspective on these bees, too.

12 Carpenter Bee Facts for the Bee Enthusiast

1. Are Carpenter Bees Dangerous?


No. Carpenter bees are only dangerous in very rare occasions. This species of bees is large, so they frighten a lot of people, but they’re solitary creatures that won’t be dangerous unless they’re provoked.

2. Are Carpenter Bees Aggressive?Different vision of carpenter bees on white.

The male carpenter bee is not aggressive. Males are born without stingers, so even if they’re provoked, they have no form of defense that poses a risk for humans. Females, on the other hand, are only aggressive in rare circumstances.

3. Do Carpenter Bees Sting?

The female carpenter bee isn’t aggressive, but they do possess a stinger unlike their male counterparts. When an insect has a stinger, there is always a risk of being stung. Females that are directly handled will sting, but if they’re buzzing around and you don’t harm them or try handling them, the risk of being stung is very minimal.

Read more about Bees Sting

4. What’s the Carpenter Bee Life Cycle?

The lifecycle of carpenter bees occurs in four unique stages:

  • Egg: A bee’s life starts in an egg, and the mother needs to make a hole in wood to hide her eggs. She’ll make a 1/2” hole using her mandibles, and she’ll then make a tunnel in the wood to place the eggs up to six inches in the wood.
  • Larva: The larva stage occurs when the bee emerges from the egg. The carpenter bee larvae are provided with food by its mother, who leaves food inside of the tunnels.
  • Pupa: The pupa part of the cycle occurs when the bee goes into a metamorphosis stage before transitioning into an adult. The bee will still be in the nest at this time, so it doesn’t need to build a cocoon; the transition remains in the brood cell.
  • Adult: The pupa stage leads to the adult stage, which completes a seven-week (on average) cycle that starts with the egg and ends with the adult carpenter bee. Adults have mandibles that allows them to borrow out of the brood cell or nest to see the outside world for the first time.

A small carpenter bee will transition into adulthood quickly.

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5. How Many Eggs Do They Lay?

These bees don’t lay as many eggs as other insects. In the average lifespan of a female, she’ll lay 6 – 10 eggs before death. What many people don’t know is that the female dies shortly after laying her eggs, so she’ll often lay one batch of eggs and die as a result.

The males die shortly after mating.

6. What Attracts Carpenter Bees?

Bees don’t mean to be pests, and there is little that you’re doing to attract the bees to your home. Carpenter bees get their name due to their ability to borrow into wood and make their brood cell.

If you could pinpoint one thing that attracts these bees, it would be wooden structures.

Timber outside of the home can be the cause of the bees choosing your home to lay their eggs nearby.

7. How Do I Not Attract Carpenter Bees?

If you want to deter these bees from laying their eggs in your home’s exterior, there are a few methods that work very well:

  • Paint the exterior with a polyurethane coating, which deters beesTropical carpenter bee out of the hole created by the bamboo.
  • Pressure-treated lumber and woods work well, too
  • Siding, both plastic and vinyl, will keep the bees away

You also have the option of swaying the bees to another location. Creating a wooden post or bird house with soft wood near flowering plants and in shade will do the trick. This is an easy place for the female to lay eggs, and the close proximity to plants provides a good location for nourishment.

Cedar, pine, redwood and cypress are good, soft woods that bees can easily borrow into.

8. Where Do Carpenter Bees Live?

The lifecycle and daily life of these bees is fascinating. When they emerge from their brood cell, it is normally in August. During this time, the young bee will move from location to location, but they can also stay in the general area where they were born.

In the winter months, these bees don’t die – they hide.

Often, these bees will return to their place of birth and burrow back into their brood cell for protection. If their home isn’t close by, they have been seen going into the brood cell of other bees.

9. What Carpenter Bee Damage Can I Expect?

The biggest concern for homeowners is the damage that the carpenter species will do to their home. The large carpenter bee will cause damage to your home’s wood if it burrows into the wood and lays eggs.

This is the biggest concern when dealing with these bees.

What’s interesting is that since the female can only lay up to 10 eggs in her life, there is no concern for large nests or colonies forming. If numerous bees decide to pick your home for nesting, you’ll want to fill the holes.

10. Can You Fill Carpenter Bee Holes?

Filling carpenter bee holes when abandoned is a good idea. There are numerous materials that can be used to plug the holes, including:

  • Steel wood
  • Caulk
  • Dowel
  • Wood glue

The goal is to cover the hole and repaint over it with one of the materials listed in fact 7. Filling the holes will keep the bees from reentering their brood cell in the winter. Wood putty works well, too.

Deterring future hole drilling is the key to ensuring the damage isn’t ongoing.

11. Carpenter Bee Vs BumblebeeCartoon bumble bee on white background.

Bumblebees have distinct characteristics that you can use to identify them.  The bumblebee will:

  • Have a hairy abdomen
  • Chase each other, whereas carpenter bees are solitary
  • Bumblebees are defensive and will attack if their nest is threatened

The bumblebee will, in most cases, have yellow markings that allow them to be identified, too.

Read more about Bumble Bee

12. What Color is a Carpenter Bee?

A picture of a carpenter bee can be misleading. These bees are 12 – 25 mm long, and they often look like a bumblebee. You’ll find the black carpenter bee and blue carpenter bee often, but they can also be:

  • Greenish
  • Metallic blue
  • Purple / blue

Males will have yellow on their faces, which helps to identify a male or female bee. Yellowish hairs are present on the legs and thorax of both sexes.

Large species lack these hairs, so these regions appear glossy.

Small carpenter bees are often dark in color.

Carpenter bees don’t eat wood, and they’ll seek nectar and pollen as a food source. The holes that are present in your wood are mere excavation and a form of evolution where the bee found a way to protect her eggs from the dangers of the outside world.

The small carpenter ant can be found in most parts of the United States.

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