The Rockdale Gardener

Gardening Posts From Rockdale Cooperative Extension

Carpenter Bees Damage Homes


Carpenter bee females drill into wood tunneling to create nests. Applying an insecticide to the hole can kill her.

Every year the carpenter bees attack our homes. The female bee bores a half inch hole into wooden siding, porch rails, furniture, fencing, decking or whatever wood she can sink her mandibles into. She can live in the tunnel for years happily raising larvae on pollen she gathers. Sawdust rains down as she expands her home each season. Eventually the tunneling can weaken the wood and cause safety issues with decks, barns and furniture.

Applying an insecticide around the entrance of the tunnel will get the female. As she leaves and enters her home, she tracks the insecticide into the tunnel eventually killing herself and her brood of larvae. Any insecticide product that you can get into the hole will work. A little caulk and paint can repair the hole and protect the damaged wood from rot.

Male carpenter bees hover outside the female’s tunnel and defend it from other would-be suitors. The males swoop and threaten any passerby including people as they guard their lover’s home. These males do not harm the structure can be a serious nuisance to homeowners. Using a tennis racket to swat the male bees is usually the best way to get rid of them.