You can kill carpenter bees without using pesticides by using carpenter bee traps, vinegar, diatomaceous earth, or a strong vacuum. If you wish to drive away carpenter bees without killing them, spray citrus oil on the wood near the nest or play loud music near the nest. In order to kill carpenter bees quickly, spray pesticides, pour bee-killing dust into the nest entrance, or use powdered boric acid. Once the bees are driven out or dead, fill the entrances to the nest with wood putty. Then, apply a coat of paint or wood finish to discourage the bees from returning.
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What are the Signs of a Carpenter Bee Infestation?
A carpenter bee colony can be identified by 1 to 2 holes chewed into wood. The holes will be ½-inch to ¾-inch in diameter. Often, there will be a small pile of sawdust or wood shavings on the ground below these holes. You may also notice a buildup of yellow pollen around these openings. Typically, the bees will choose an area of untreated, unpainted wood to chew their holes into the wood.
- One or more circular holes in wood with a diameter of ½ to ¾ of an inch (1–2 cm).
- Sawdust or wood shavings on the ground beneath the holes.
- Yellow powder on the wood surrounding the hole.
- The presence of large, black bees, about the size of a bumblebee.
Of course, the most obvious sign of a carpenter bee infestation is the presence of large, dark bees patrolling near the colony opening, or coming and going from the holes chewed in wood. Carpenter bees have black heads and abdomens, with a small yellow midsection. At a glance, they look like black bees.
Are Carpenter Bees Dangerous?
Carpenter bees seldom sting, but they can do serious damage to wood structures. Although the holes carpenter bees chew in wood are small at first glance, the bee tunnels can extend several feet through the wood, below the surface. This can damage wood, encourage rot, or even make the wood prone to collapse. So, carpenter bees invading your home or wooden deck should be dealt with promptly.
- Carpenter bees can tunnel extensively through wood, causing structural damage and encouraging decay.
- If you have a carpenter bee invasion, it’s best to relocate or eradicate the bees.
- Male carpenter bees typically guard the nest but they cannot sting.
- A female carpenter bee can sting but will rarely do so.
Male carpenter bees typically act as nest guards. Because the males cannot sting, they will dive bomb intruders, but they cannot cause you harm. Female carpenter bees are capable of stinging, but seldom do so. Carpenter bees will only sting if their life or their colony is in danger.
10 Ways to Get Rid of Carpenter Bees
Whether you want to safely relocate carpenter bees without harming them, kill them without pesticides, or simply kill them quickly, there are several options. Below are the best ways to drive out or kill carpenter bees that have invaded wooden structures.
Carpenter Bee Traps
You can trap and kill carpenter bees quickly and naturally by using this carpenter bee trap. Simply install the trap near the carpenter bee nest. No bait or chemicals are necessary. Carpenter bees will be drawn to the bee-sized holes in the trap. However, once they get inside the bees cannot escape. They will collect in the bottle of the trap. In a short time, you can eliminate adult carpenter bees and kill off the colony.
Carpenter bees are repelled by the scent of citrus oil. If you want to drive bees away, thoroughly spray the wood around the nest entrances with this concentrated citrus spray. Make sure the wood 6 inches (15 cm) in every direction around the hole is thoroughly saturated with the spray. Wait for 3–5 days and reapply the oil if it rains. This will drive out the carpenter bees. Then, you can fill the holes in the wood with putty and paint over them. That will prevent the bees from returning.
You can drive carpenter bees away from their nest by playing loud music near the entrance for 2–3 days. The vibration of the music disrupts the behavior of the bees and causes them to flee. So, it’s a good idea to place a speaker as close as possible to the nest and play very bass-heavy music to cause the most vibration. If you play the music all day for a few days, the adult bees will flee. Then, all you have to do is fill the nest entrances and paint the wood.
Vinegar is deadly to bees. Although this means you should not spray vinegar in your garden, you can use vinegar to eliminate carpenter bees. Simply make a 50/50 mix of water and vinegar. Then, use a funnel to pour the mixture into the entrances of the carpenter bee colony. Continue pouring until the mixture flows back out, indicating the tunnels in the wood are full. This will kill the bees in minutes.
You can kill carpenter bees without using any chemicals by pouring this food-grade diatomaceous earth powder into the entrances to the colony. Diatomaceous earth is made of tiny fossils. It scrapes the surface of bees as they crawl through it, dehydrating and killing them. Get as much diatomaceous earth into the colony entrances, then dust the outside of the wood, around the holes. This will kill the carpenter bees within 3–4 days.
You can vacuum carpenter bees directly out of their colony to easily remove and kill them. For best results, use a shop vacuum equipped with a narrow nozzle. Place the nozzle up against the entrance to the hive to vacuum out the adult bees. Once you’ve vacuumed the bees out of every hive entrance, fill the holes with putty or caulk so that the larva inside will die.
You can kill carpenter bees in minutes by using this foaming pesticide spray. Spray the pesticide directly into the entrance to the carpenter bee colony. The foam will expand and kill the bees and larva. Additionally, you can spray any bees that are defending the colony to kill them quickly and make the job easier. Just make sure to wear a breath mask and goggles to avoid exposure to the pesticide.
This dust pesticide is formulated to kill carpenter bees quickly. To use it, first put on a mask and goggles. Then, insert the tip of the bottle into the entrance to the carpenter bee tunnel. Squeeze the bottle to spray dust deep into the colony. Then, repeat for any additional entrances. Within 24–48 hours, the carpenter bees will be dead.
Powdered boric acid can be used instead of a pesticide to kill carpenter bees. For the best results, use this boric acid product. It’s also important to note that powdered boric acid is more powerful than borax, so you cannot interchange the two. Once you have your boric acid, put on goggles and a mask. Then squeeze as much of the powder as you can into each colony entrance. The carpenter bees will be quickly killed by the acid.
If your carpenter bee problem is extensive, or if the bees return despite your efforts, contact a professional exterminator. In addition to powerful pesticides, exterminators may also have equipment for removing and relocating bees. So, calling an exterminator may actually save the lives of the carpenter bees and remove them from your home in the process.
What Will Keep Carpenter Bees Away?
Fill carpenter bee holes with wood putty or caulk, then paint the wood to keep carpenter bees from returning after you destroy a colony. Carpenter bees are most likely to chew entrances in unfinished wood. So, painting your wood surfaces with colored paint or a clear finish is the best defense against these insects.
- Fill holes in wood with putty or caulk, then paint the wood to repel carpenter bees.
- Carpenter bees prefer unfinished wood and will often avoid painted, finished, or stained wood.
- Build decks and outdoor structures from hardwood—carpenter bees prefer to build colonies in soft wood.
Carpenter bees prefer soft woods, such as pine, for their colonies. Although you may not be able to choose the wood your home was built from, keep this in mind when building or repairing outdoor decks. Choose a hardwood variety and apply a finish once your deck is complete.
What Kills Carpenter Bees Naturally?
You can kill carpenter bees by natural means such as bee traps, diatomaceous earth powder, or vinegar-based bee killers. Each of these solutions requires no pesticides but will effectively kill carpenter bees. You can even hang carpenter bee traps outside each spring to lure carpenter bees to their death before they chew any holes in your home.
- Bee traps kill carpenter bees without any chemicals or bait.
- A 50/50 mix of vinegar and water kills carpenter bees on contact.
- Diatomaceous earth is a natural powder. It kills bees if they crawl through it.
- Consider driving carpenter bees away with essential oils or loud music instead of killing them.
Because carpenter bees are magnificent pollinators, you may not wish to kill them. You can use citrus oil or almond oil sprayed on the wood outside a carpenter bee colony to drive the bees away. You can also play loud, bass-heavy music near the colony entrance to cause the bees to flee.
How Do You Get Rid of Carpenter Bees Fast?
If carpenter bees have tunneled into your home, deck, or other buildings, you can get rid of them quickly with these techniques:
- Hang specially designed carpenter bee traps near the entrances to the bee colony.
- Spray citrus oil on the wood around the colony entrance to drive the bees away.
- Play loud music outside the bee colony for 2–3 days to cause the bees to flee.
- Pour a 50/50 mix of vinegar and water into the colony entrances.
- Pour food-grade diatomaceous earth into the colony entrances.
- Use a shop vacuum to vacuum bees directly out of the entrances to the colony.
- Use a foaming pesticide to quickly kill every bee in the colony.
- Pour insecticidal dust into the colony entrances.
- Fill the colony entrances with a dusting of boric acid powder.
- Call an exterminator to kill or relocate the bees.
Carpenter bees can be very harmful to your home, since they dig extensive tunnels in the wood. However, they are beneficial insects that pollinate crops and flowers. So, it may be worth using humane methods to drive the bees off before resorting to deadly tactics.