Carpenter bees do more good than harm


Taken from the book, A Guide the Wonderful World Around Us: Notes on Nature by Brannen Basham.

Annoying but important 

You know carpenter bees- the large yellow and black insects that bore holes in wood and can sometimes be seen patrolling their territories. These traits have given the carpenter bee a bad rap which it does not deserve. Carpenter bees are amazing native pollinators and are an important part of the ecosystem for several main reasons. These bees pollinate flowers, feed birds, and increase the yield of certain plant species. The damage they do to buildings is annoying, but only just that. They excavate nests, commonly called galleries, along the direction of the wood grain and they actually do surprisingly little structural damage this way; the value of these creatures far outweighs the damage that they could cause. (See the comments section for more details on carpenter bee damage.)

Carpenter bees are built tough

Carpenter bees are the largest bees in North America, and because of that, they are capable of some things that other bees just aren’t built to do. Inclement weather that normally gets in the way of pollination can be overcome by sheer size. Rain showers and wind that would knock smaller insects out of the skies are shrugged off by these buzzing beasts. They are also able to perform admirably in cold weather. These traits let them pick up the slack in pollination during times when other insects simply can’t risk it. Usually, their size is enough to scare away most pests and predators. This has led to carpenter bees being very docile- the females will only sting under extreme circumstances, such as being stepped on. The males, which can be seen hovering in their territories around nest sites or flowers, will usually fly straight towards intruders at high speeds. While this can be intimidating, these males are in fact all talk and do not have stingers. Their large size also makes them easy pickings for hungry birds. Large bees such as carpenter and bumble bees are important food sources for birds, especially in spring where they may be active before other insects.

The buzz on buzz pollination 

Carpenter Bee, Native Bees of North America

Carpenter Bee, Native Bees of North America

Carpenter bees have the ability to vibrate their flight muscles at specific frequencies while visiting flowers. Known as buzz pollination, this vibrates the flower and dislodges pollen. Tomatoes, blueberries, eggplants, and cranberries all benefit greatly from this type of pollination and produce larger fruit in greater quantities when buzz pollinated. Honey bees do not possess this ability. Carpenter bees are able to recognize one another and have been found to be able to make it back home after being moved up to 7 miles away. They generally live in semi-social settings involving varying degrees of cooperation between each other.

NC carpenter bees

Two species of carpenter bee are seen in North Carolina, the eastern carpenter bee, and the southern carpenter bee. Both look similar to bumble bees with a shiny black butt- the southern carpenter bee also has a vest of red fuzz. These bees usually nest in the trunks and branches of dead standing trees in a forest. As forests are cut down and manicured, many of these dead trees are the first to be removed. This leaves carpenter bees with very few options for nesting sites. It’s not difficult to see why our houses, decks, and barns look inviting to such a creature. Luckily there are some ways to make your property less appealing. Properly staining and/or painting the exposed wood on your property is first and foremost. While this will not guarantee that carpenter bees won’t move in, it is much less likely if there is no unfinished wood visible. Paired with another possible nesting site nearby such as a pile of wood or dead tree, this may be enough to keep carpenter bees away. These bees seem to prefer pine and cedar wood over other types for their nests. If possible, use another wood for your buildings.

If you have a problem area that you are unsure about, please comment on this post or send me an email at brannen@sprigglys.com and I would be happy to offer my opinion.


If you like this story, read the full version and over 50 other non-fiction nature stories in our new book, A Guide to the Wonderful World Around Us: Notes on Nature. Please click here to visit Amazon.com to learn more about purchasing this book.

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111 Comments

  1. The15thMember on May 4, 2018 at 5:02 pm

    This is an old post, but maybe you’ll see me. I have carpenter bees nesting in my garage. I actually love them, the males are so curious and will fly over and investigate anything I’m doing near their territory, and they chase wasps away from my honeybee hives, which are nearby. I am concerned about what damage they could cause the garage long-term though. But the only information I can seem to find on whether they are truly damaging or not is from exterminators, who of course say to get rid of them! Last year at their peek I counted about 18 holes that appeared to be in use that go up under the wooden siding. What exactly are their boring habits, how damaging are they really to a structure? If they are not actually doing any harm to the garage, I’d certainly rather just let them live there. But if they are going to cause me a problem, I’d like to see if I can convince them to relocate.

    • sprigglys on May 6, 2018 at 2:13 pm

      Thanks for the question! Carpenter bees are truly fascinating and unique in their nesting habits compared to other bees. They excavate nests, commonly called galleries, along the direction of the wood grain and they actually do surprisingly little structural damage this way. This was probably evolved so that they could have many nests in a dead tree without compromising the structural integrity. They are VERY long-lived bees and are thought to spend the first few years of their lives entirely within the nest. From what I have seen and read, most of the structural damage associated with carpenter bee nests are from woodpeckers and other predators that try to chisel their way into the wood. Keep an eye out for this type of damage, as this can lead to a weakening of your garage. I have heard of old barns and the like absolutely riddled with carpenter bee nests that are still strong enough to stay standing. Thank you for preferring to co-exist with these important bees rather than exterminate them!

      • The15thMember on May 7, 2018 at 9:47 pm

        Oh, good! Thank you so much for the information! I did not know they were long-lived, that is very fascinating! Keep up the good work, guys, educating people on pollinators. My mother reads your column in the paper every week and loves it! So many people are just uninformed, thinking all bees are dangerous and scary. (I used to be one of them!) I just got some honeybees about a month ago, and I can’t believe how docile they are. As long as you treat them with respect, they are completely reasonable. It’s amazing to me how people think hives are a danger to a neighborhood and things like that. It makes me think that if people just knew . . . if they knew that the bees just go about their business unless threatened, if they knew that carpenter bees are just curious and not attacking, if they knew that the Sevin dust that Lowe’s puts as an impulse buy at the checkouts has the potential to decimate a nearby hive . . . . I just think it’s great that you guys are out there pushing against the tide of scare-tactics and misinformation that continues to be fed to people by exterminators and similar people just trying to make money. All the power to you! 🙂

        • Lara on May 21, 2018 at 6:09 pm

          Thanks for this thread – I have had carpenter bees living in the old sills of my foundation (I live in a home which is 150+ years old). I think the bees are leveraging the old beetle holes which were already there. I think they are a delight to watch, they are not aggressive and do enjoy our garden. I am glad to find out that the impact they are having on the house is likely minimal (also my deck is rotting so they probably are in there!)

          • sprigglys on May 21, 2018 at 9:50 pm

            We love hearing you enjoy watching these bees, we do too! Thanks for your comment!



          • Butch wood on July 6, 2020 at 3:50 pm

            I have a small cedar bench that was handmade by my deceased cousin.
            I just sprayed a poison spray into the holes and approximately 30 bees
            Have come out of the holes. Portions of the support boards appear to be hollow already. I am sorry if they are beneficial; but the bench was a treasured item on my porch. At the time I did not know they were beneficial; but I would continue to exterminate them. I tried plugging the many existing holes; and they destroyed the wood putty in one day..
            Sorry, but I hope they do not return.



          • sprigglys on July 6, 2020 at 8:42 pm

            Hello,

            While you are certainly free to do whatever you’d like on your property, this is not the place to apologize as it was not me you harmed but instead some unfortunate wildlife. I would like to leave you with some points for future consideration so that this can hopefully be a learning experience for others in similar situations.

            Carpenter bees are indeed beneficial, however I encourage you to keep in mind that every creature you find in and around your property is serving a critical purpose in its environment. It is generally a good idea to let local wildlife be whenever possible. In the case of carpenter bees, making sure the wood is well painted or stained usually goes a long way in making a piece undesirable.

            It sounds like you might have killed or seriously injured most of the bees already, however some might have simply fled to the surrounding area for the time being. To make sure they don’t come back to your bench, I would put it in a garage or similar covered structure for a few days. This will hopefully encourage them to move elsewhere.

            Be careful while moving your bench, since you do not want to come into close contact with the insecticide. What did you use? Unfortunately, some insecticides are known to be harmful to pets and humans, and the long term effects of all pesticides on humans are still largely unknown. Thanks to a great deal of research that shows the unintended effects pesticides can have on both people and wildlife, the ‘spray and forget’ mentality that has dominated gardening culture for years is becoming outdated. I encourage you to follow suit and only use pesticides ( including herbicides, fungicides, and insecticides) as a last resort rather than a first choice.

            If you would like to learn more about pesticides or some links to the studies I have mentioned, I would be happy to speak to you more. Send me an email at info@sprigglys.com



      • Houston Allman on June 12, 2018 at 7:01 pm

        I have to replace all of the trim around my house because of the bees but it’s only going to cost about $3000 to do it. That thrills me. I did notice that they bore so many holes that only a paper thin thickness of wood is left between their holes and
        exposure to the outside air.

        • sprigglys on June 18, 2018 at 2:09 am

          Wow, any idea how long it took for them to dig such extensive galleries? If you are replacing with real wood, definitely stain and/or paint any exposed wood ASAP to hopefully keep them from setting into your new trim. Another option would be to use another material such as composite that would be less desirable for them.

      • Nina Haskett on July 11, 2020 at 11:57 pm

        I love my carpenter bees! My son has been replacing my old wooden deck and today a few have landed In the new railing – maybe in search of an old home? Or just looking for new digs? We didn’t see any come out anywhere when we were tearing down the old deck.

        This is the first time I was able to examine one up really close – actually thought one was dead as it just sat there for over 5 minutes! When I came inside I didn’t realize I had a stowaway on my blouse, until I felt something on my arm. First reaction was to bat at it and then scream! Her first reaction was to give me a little sting and then fall to the floor on her back. I used a piece of paper to transport her to the porch, where she flew away, probably to report back to her friends about her great adventure!

        Thank you for your article – very informative, as were the comments and replies. 😀

        • sprigglys on July 12, 2020 at 6:43 pm

          Glad you found us! Thank you for your comment, and make sure to stain or paint your new deck as soon as possible to make it as unattractive to carpenter bees as possible. Enjoy the rest of the summer with your flying friends!

    • Sara Haddow on July 2, 2020 at 2:13 pm

      I have carpenter bees in the front of my house. Some how they have gotten under the aluminum soffit and facia. This the second year. I don’t want to kill them . the wood underneath was painted at one time. My house is over 100 years old. I don’t want to have to remove the aluminum. It is 15 feet up. I have 3 cedar trees one just feet from where they are nesting. How can i make them go there instead of my house?

      • sprigglys on July 6, 2020 at 8:23 pm

        Thanks for reaching out! The most immediate thing you can do is to leave any and all dead limbs on your nearby trees, since carpenter bees like to live in dead branches still attached to trees. Unfortunately, due to their long lives and tendency to share their nests with multiple generations, evicting carpenter bees from your house is a slow process that takes several years. Keeping dead limbs on trees and leaving dead trees where they are will entice new generations of carpenter bees to leave your house and venture back into the woods. Piles of heat treated (not pressure treated) pine 2x4s in areas sheltered from extreme weather can also help attract them away from your siding. At the same time, make sure to paint any exposed wood elsewhere on your property to try and keep it as unattractive to carpenter bees as possible. After a few years, the hope is that all of the new bees from the nest in your house will leave it empty in favor of greener pastures as the ‘old guard’ passes away. I would then recommend re-painting the area, and sealing up any holes. Please keep us updated on the steps you decide on taking, and how it works for you.

  2. Caroline Cox on May 6, 2018 at 3:27 am

    Well, thank u for the positive comments on the carpenter bee. I kinda like them, myself. Every other site I went to n order to read about them, ended n how to kill them.

    • sprigglys on May 6, 2018 at 2:16 pm

      Definitely, we are so happy you found us! Most information right now will tell you to kill them, but as they are important pollinators, the goal should be to rehouse carpenter bees not kill them. Spriggly’s is currently researching housing solutions to carpenter bees that attract them away from your house and into a new type of nesting unit. Stay tuned!

  3. Alison Sue Rosenbaum on May 15, 2018 at 2:23 pm

    I’ve always been fascinated by carpenter bees. I love how they come check me out while I’m drinking coffee on the deck. I say “hello guys and gals!” Then when they know that I’m not a predator they go back to patrolling.

    • sprigglys on May 17, 2018 at 9:18 pm

      We so agree! They are extremely fascinating and enjoyable to watch!

  4. Barb on June 6, 2018 at 5:37 pm

    Today its 56 degrees outside in Western Pennsylvania. I see carpenter bees all over today. On ground sitting on my roof on the tires of my truck. It seems like something is wrong with them. I’ve never seen this before. Could this be from the weather being cooler?

    • sprigglys on June 6, 2018 at 9:25 pm

      They are just a little cold! The flight muscles of bees stop working around 40 degrees Fahrenheit, however, carpenter bees being larger and quite fuzzy, have the ability to be out even during colder weather. They are just taking a moment to warm-up in the sun.

  5. Barb R on June 9, 2018 at 12:04 am

    I’ve read that need do not like mint. I don’t want to kill them, but I would like to encourage a move as they are burrowing on my pool deck. Any other ideas? I have a mini-forest behind my house so why they choose my deck is unknown.

    • sprigglys on June 10, 2018 at 1:59 pm

      Thanks for the question! Unfortunately encouraging carpenter bees to move out once they make a nest can be difficult. We have not experimented with mint, but let us know how it works for you. We have heard that loud music drives out carpenter bees, however we have not tested this either. I would guess that the loud music mimics the vibrations caused by a woodpecker trying to get into their nest. Perhaps banging on the wood could cause them to consider relocating? Let us know what you try, and how it works. Make sure to have other wood nearby to try and lure them to a new home (even heat treated pine 2x4s work well), make a stack or pile 10-20 feet from the house in a sheltered location if possible. Once they become established somewhere else, make sure to replace and/or cover any damaged or exposed wood with paint or stain.

    • Anthony on October 26, 2018 at 1:51 am

      They actually love mint mostly when the mint starts to bloom flowers lol you’ll have a lot of other insect’s that enjoy the flowers from mint as well

  6. furtdsolinopv on August 15, 2018 at 8:36 am

    You made some clear points there. I did a search on the issue and found most individuals will consent with your blog.

    • sprigglys on August 15, 2018 at 11:52 pm

      We hope so! Carpenter bees are extremely important pollinators and do less damage to homes than some might think.

  7. Tricia on September 9, 2018 at 11:57 pm

    I currently have a medium size piece of drift wood that some carpenter bees have made into a fantastic apartment home. I will be redoing the backyard and would like to rehome this piece in the future into the garden area instead of where it currently sits on the patio. Does anyone have any suggestions on the best way to do this?

    • sprigglys on September 11, 2018 at 3:14 pm

      Thank you for the question! Wait until the winter to move the drift wood, so that all of the carpenter bees are inside of their galleries in the wood. Mid-December should be fine if you can wait that long. Very glad you chose to give them a nice place to live.

      • Tricia on September 14, 2018 at 11:41 pm

        Perfect! Thank you so much for the reply! Super helpful

  8. Jan on November 26, 2018 at 3:09 am

    I found one upside down tonight on my patio, legs bicycling slowly, almost as if it were dying. At first I thought it was a spider, but at a closer look I saw the little bit of fuzzy yellow and decided it must be a bee. I scraped it into a glass jar (with a lid because it was still moving, albeit a tiny bit). Initially my first Google attempt identified it as a carpenter bee and and harked on the terrible wood damage they cause – but thankfully I found your site for another opinion. It’s been unseasonably warm here (70s) the last couple of days, but today the temps dropped into the 60s (and 30s at night.) I’ve had honeybees before (during the summer) but this was the largest bee I’ve seen around here (North Texas) and weird for November. By the time I read all the info on your site, this thing seemed to get a new life (thank goodness I did opt for a lid) Wings spread out (they were tightly together when I first picked it up) and crawling all over the place obviously looking for a way out. So… I let it out on the front flower bed of our house (then ran away – their size still freaks me out a bit). Didn’t stick around to see if it eventually was able to fly off, but after reading your comment about their flight muscles I wondered if my bringing it inside my warm home (it’s 40 degrees outside and dropping to 32) is what woke it up. Now I feel bad for putting it back out in the cold! Should I expect to see more of these if this one showed up?

    • sprigglys on November 28, 2018 at 1:18 pm

      Thanks for the comment! We have noticed several similar chilled bees here in Western North Carolina as well. If your weather keeps warming up like it sounds like it has been, you might see a few more out as it seems like the males especially get cabin fever in cold weather and try to get out as soon as it warms. This can lead to them spending the night outside of their original nest and getting dangerously chilled. Keep an eye out for more carpenter bees, but do not feel bad- more than likely you gave it more of a chance to find shelter than it otherwise had. I completely understand that their size can be intimidating, but they are absolutely one of the most docile semi-social bees we have here in the States and they are usually very laid back. Keeping piles of leaves, fallen logs, and the like on your property wherever possible will give these and any other bees on your property some warm shelter during the cold months.

  9. Jennifer on January 9, 2019 at 10:24 pm

    I found a carpenter bee on our chain-linked fence today. It wasn’t moving until I touched it. It then moved its legs a little. I got a twig and warmed it in my hands and put it next to the carpenter bee. I then gently stroked its fuzzy back until it moved onto the twig and then I put it is a little screened “bug keeper”. We put it in the sun and it moved around a little but not so much. After a half an hour we brought it inside. Now it is hanging from the side of the screen. Carpenter bees have lived on the soffit of our screened porch for years. There is one motionless on the wood just below one of the hives, too. It was unseasonably warm yesterday (almost 70), but today the high was 50. It will drop to the 30’s and 40s in the coming days. Should I try to put it on a ladder near a hive, or on some plants below on the side I found it on, or keep it inside and feed it? If I feed it, what ratio of white cane sugar to water should I use?

    • sprigglys on January 12, 2019 at 1:57 am

      Thank you for saving your carpenter bee! If you leave it outside on a warmer afternoon (around 50) it should be able to find its way back home. Until then, feeding it might not hurt too much if you think the weather will be bad enough to prevent flying. Definitely stay on the light sugar syrup side, maybe a ratio of 1:4 sugar to water. Keep in touch and I hope you’ve taken some pictures of the process!

  10. Jessica on April 2, 2019 at 3:55 am

    Hello! I enjoyed reading this post and all the comments that followed. I have a family of carpenter bee’s in the beams of my front porch. They have been there ever since I bought my home a few years ago. And as the children play and we sit out on the porch, the bees tend to fly at our heads and get very close. It is scary not going to lie. I have had people tell me to put caulking in the holes but I couldn’t dare do that to them.
    I do garden, vegetable and flower gardens. And I was wonder about rehoming them. You have mentioned that in one of your comments and I was wondering if you have made any headway on this or have any ideas. I was thinking of trying to take some wooden boards I have and putting them into the ground like a post in my wild flower plot. And drilling a couple holes in the board. Or making some sort of sheltered board system to house them? Maybe if I take a bird bath and put colored stones in it and water for a bee and butterfly drinking area it might make it more attractive for the carpenter bees? I just know I can’t have them right there over my front porch steps chasing children. But I also don’t want to harm the bee’s. Any advice?

    • sprigglys on April 2, 2019 at 1:10 pm

      Thank you for the comment! Chances are the carpenter bees getting into your face are males who don’t have stingers and couldn’t sting even if they wanted to. It can be unnerving at times, however. We are still experimenting with ways to lure carpenter bees away from houses, however what you are doing sounds like it would have the best chance of working. Drilling starter holes doesn’t seem to encourage carpenter bees to make houses in wood, so leave them as is. Make sure the wood you use is untreated, and like you said they seem to appreciate a bit of shelter from rain and other weather so an eave at the top would give them a nice dry spot. Your bird bath idea is great as well. Make sure the boards you use are at least three inches thick to give your bees enough room to make their galleries. You were right not to close the holes, as the young carpenter bees inside will simply burrow around them!

      Good luck, and let us know how your housing works!

  11. Jessica on April 4, 2019 at 12:23 am

    Thank you for the advice and I most certainly will update you!

  12. Deanna on April 7, 2019 at 7:06 pm

    I’m so excited to find this article, I absolutely love native bees especially the Carpenter Bees! They are so gentle and very interesting to watch. Thank you for sharing an article that doesn’t tell people to kill them!

    • sprigglys on April 8, 2019 at 12:53 pm

      Thank you so much for your kind words and for your love of native bees – and especially – carpenter bees! We quite agree that they are gentle and very interesting to watch. Thank you for reading! Please feel free to share this article far and wide. We would love for as many people as possible to think the way you do!

  13. Denise Poirier on April 17, 2019 at 2:07 pm

    Thank you so much for the info. I too have a love for all of nature. I found a carpenter bee walking around near my garden,upon inspection I determined his wing was hanging wierd,and he couldnt fly,I moved him to some flowers.next day he was still there. Well I live in north Florida,so its been warm but that day it was going to get cold and rain heavily,so I put some things around him,and placed a small table over him to protect from rain,well he survived all that,but next day it was even colder so I brought him in,made him a nice house in an aquarium,put some bottle caps in there one sugar water one with honey water, I used a small dropper to offer some of the solution,he started licking it,I picked him a bouquet and let him be,he stated coming to life,by the third day he was able to close his wings and on day 4 he started buzzing his wings,today is day 5 he hasnt woke (chiily today)Im hopeing he will recover,if not I will just take care of him,my friends think I’m nuts for having a pet bee, but I love him !

    • sprigglys on April 17, 2019 at 5:44 pm

      Thank you so much for doing everything you can to help that bee! We’ve moved many wet bees into the sun and swear we saw them acknowledge what we had done! You have done so much more and we know he (or she) appreciates it. Give him a bit more time and hopefully, they’ll warm up. They tend to just stay in one place when it gets too chilly. Also, we do not think you are nuts for helping the bee – we so appreciate people that view these incredibly beneficial insects as something as important as a pet. Thank you for everything you are doing and please keep us posted!

  14. Denise Poirier on April 23, 2019 at 7:04 pm

    Well just a quick update on my little pet bee he never became able to fly so I figured the right thing to do was just to put him out in his environment and kind of keep an eye on him I put him in a mass of flowers that he liked I saw him for a couple days but then I didn’t see him anymore today so I’ll never know but he was never able to fly.

    • sprigglys on April 24, 2019 at 5:24 pm

      Thanks for the update- hopefully he was able to recover and continue his bee business as normal!

  15. beteljooz on May 1, 2019 at 2:14 am

    My mom has an apple tree in her yard that had a diseased limb. My brother cut off the limb at the base, leaving an 8″ wide area of exposed soft wood. Any suggestions on how to prevent carpenter bees from boring into the wood? My mom is elderly and loves to garden. I don’t want her to have any accidental run-ins with large bees, so if we can find a way to avoid carpenter bees from boring into or nesting in the tree, that would be fantastic.

    P.S. – I have found half-drowned honeybees in my yard and helped revived them. Instead of blowing on them to dry them off, I breathed warm air onto them until they came to and their wings no longer stuck to their bodies from being wet. I’ve done it a few times now. It’s like giving a bee CPR. I’ve also come up with a “bee bar” so bees have a safe place to drink with a highly reduced risk of drowning. I’ve dubbed it “Cantina Abeja.” They’ll stop, drink up, sit on the rocks and clean themselves before taking off again. I took a self-filling water dish for cats and dogs and filled the base with rocks. The one gallon Sparkletts-type bottle that comes with it gets super-heated in the sun, so removed that and top it off manually every day. I’ve also come up with a new one that’s a drip system. Still needs some work, though.

    Thank you for you website and your insights!

    • sprigglys on May 1, 2019 at 10:46 pm

      Thank you for your comment! First off, I don’t think you have to worry too much about carpenter bees boring into your mom’s apple tree. They seem to prefer nesting in the branches of trees rather than the trunk.

      It sounds like you have made some really cool inventions to help the bees in your area! We appreciate you sharing them with us- the name of your bee bar is great. Thank you for taking the time to appreciate these important creatures.

  16. Vickie Weaver on May 7, 2019 at 8:28 pm

    About a half an hour ago, I sprayed vinegar-water (equal parts) directly and separately at a pair of carpenter bees that kept flying around my patio, going into bored holes, and trying to select new spots to bore. They finally got together for a second just beyond the roof and appeared to tell each other, “The smell is awful. I can’t get away from it. Let’s get out of here!” Then, a minute ago one returned and snooped around briefly before leaving again. They can’t stand the smell! In short, vinegar seems to work as a deterrent; so, I’m keeping a bottle on the patio. If you experts believe that I should not spray vinegar-water at them, etc., please send an e-mail to tell me.

    • sprigglys on May 8, 2019 at 2:35 pm

      Thanks for your comment- I think you’re right, carpenter bees and most insects dislike the smell of vinegar- some small insects can even be killed outright from being sprayed! While I wouldn’t spray the bees directly with vinegar, it might work well as a deterrent if you spray wood that they seem attracted to. Keep us updated and let us know how it works this season!

  17. Ann on May 8, 2019 at 12:24 am

    Hello,
    I love the carpenter bees and consider them a valued part of my garden. However, i am thinking of moving and am worried the next home owner won’t be as fond of these regular occupants as I am. What are the options to either save them outright, move them, or discourage them from nesting so they leave and do not risk being exterminated by a less appreciative homeowner?
    Thank you in advance!

    • sprigglys on May 8, 2019 at 2:39 pm

      Thank you for your concern about your bee roommates! Unfortunately, the best thing to do in your situation might be to remove the wood that they are nesting in, relocate it to a wild space nearby, and replace it with well stained or painted wood. The stain and paint will discourage any more from moving in, while moving their original nests will hopefully encourage them to stay in that new area. Leaving some fallen limbs, untreated lumber such as 2×4, and other refuse in sheltered locations nearby can also work well at keeping them away from houses. Send us an email at info@sprigglys.com for more help with this issue.

  18. Kimberly Hanson on May 8, 2019 at 5:15 am

    I really enjoyed this article! Thank you! I found myself talking to the carpenter bees in my porch and was Google searching to see if they did a lot of damage to wood. They are beautiful bees, I am glad to know they are helpful to the plants 😍

    • sprigglys on May 8, 2019 at 2:41 pm

      Thank you for reading! They are indeed very important and beneficial insects. I am sure they are also good listeners.

  19. Ann on May 9, 2019 at 3:09 am

    Thank you for your quick reply!

    I am fond of my bee friends. If i were to move the nest, when is the most dormant time to do so?

    They are in an overhead patio structure and part of a butterfly bush. Removing the nests and possibly relocating is a good plan, but would like to do so during a time that would be least stressful for them.

    Thank you again!

    Ann

  20. Amber on May 17, 2019 at 9:52 am

    I’m in NV. While clearing a downed branch from my hybrid willow tree I came across a group of bored holes in the trunk about 10 ft up. Earlier in the week I’d seen a couple black bumbles wandering around my back yard and didn’t think much of it.
    There are high dead branches I need to bring down safely before the wind does but I don’t want to disturb the bumbles. I don’t want them boring my fascia boards or the neighbors so I’ll keep watch for that but they are fine in the tree.
    My question is… our homes are stucco over wood frame. Do you think the house is safe? Since they are pine underneath…

    • sprigglys on May 20, 2019 at 1:07 am

      Thanks for the question. I think you will be ok, I have never heard of carpenter bees getting underneath stucco. They are extremely durable bees, however, so it could be possible! I would not be worried though. If they do ever seem to be getting in, reach back out and we can try and troubleshoot.

  21. Marsha on May 19, 2019 at 11:53 pm

    I love this article and all these comments! I have had carpenter bees on my deck for several years but didn’t realize what they were till now. I actually mistook the one I saw for a bumblebee. But then I realized that they made a hole in a piece of the wood on my deck fence. It’s not a structural piece of wood so I’m fine with them living there. I love them also. I have noticed that hovering behavior in past years. And I also like it when they fly up to get a closer look at me. I do have a couple of questions. I keep hearing clicking noises from the direction of where the nest is. Do they make clicking noises when they’re excavating the wood? Also, the fact that I have seen them hovering in the same spot every year, does that mean that the same bees are coming back? Or do the babies grow up and nest in the same spot?

    • sprigglys on May 20, 2019 at 1:14 am

      Thanks for your comment! Yes, they do make scraping or clicking noises when they excavate the wood. They also use the sawdust from their digging to build partitions. So it might be a combination of carpenter bee construction noises. Carpenter bee females can live for a few years, however from what I understand the males aren’t very long lived and they are the ones who hover and guard their territory. If I had to guess, the spot that you see must be a top notch territory and is reclaimed every year by new males. Carpenter bees do re-use the same nests year after year.

  22. John on May 21, 2019 at 5:14 am

    I’ve grown to love them too.

    My house was built in ’78. That would be 1878, and the old schoolhouse (just an old log cabin without windows or a fireplace, kids were built tough in those days) has a large colony of them inside the logs. For the first few years I tried to get rid of them. Pffft, that wasn’t going to happen, these things are built like tanks.

    By and by, I noticed that the honey bees had all but disappeared, and the pollinating duties had been taken over by the Carpenter bees. They bumble-stumble their way through the blueberries, strawberries, grapes, cherries, peaches, and blackberries, as well as the boring vegetables, pollinating as they go. They aren’t aggressive in the least, curious yes, they will fly right up to you and hover in place. Swat them aside if they bother you, they won’t sting you (the only victim of a stinging was my dog, Mollie, who would catch them out of the air until she decided that it wasn’t such a good idea anymore. The look on her face was hilarious when she came to that conclusion.

    So the bees no longer have anything to worry about from me, not that I had any luck getting rid of them in the first place. I wouldn’t get rid of them for anything.

    • sprigglys on May 22, 2019 at 12:04 am

      Thank you for this great comment- they are some of our favorite garden companions as well!

  23. Erick La von on May 25, 2019 at 7:23 pm

    This thread has been so enlightening and I thank all of you. We have been restoring a 70 + year old cottage with a huge lot. We bull dozed most of the lot to clear out the disastrous overgrowth but saved this neat old 8 foot cherry tree stump. Now I know that the funny, charming and lovely creatures living inside this old trunk are awesome co-gardeners! Also… why we have soooo many wood peckers hanging around. Cheers!

    • sprigglys on May 29, 2019 at 11:53 am

      Thanks for reading, and for your great comment! Leaving any and all possible areas wild is a great way to give these and other important insects a place to live.

  24. Tara on May 29, 2019 at 4:08 pm

    I recently discovered I have a male carpenter bee, now named Brandon, patrolling the deck in my back yard. This house is new to us, and we have not discovered any “galleries” or calls as of yet. I have some new, pollin filled plants in my yard, which may be why Brandon has selected our home.

    What are some things I can do to help Brandon stay healthy and possibly invite more bees?

    • sprigglys on May 30, 2019 at 1:03 am

      First of all – we love this story and that you named him! Also, thank you for wanting to attract more bees! To both support and attract bees it is best to keep something blooming at all times during the growing season and also make sure there is a nearby source of water if there isn’t one naturally. This can be created simply by putting a dish of water out with some rocks in the bottom that come slightly above the water. This will give Brandon and any other bees a place to drink. Another important factor is to not use any type of pesticide or chemical in your lawn. Let us know how everything goes!

      • Tara on May 31, 2019 at 6:13 pm

        Well, we just had some pretty bad thunderstorms roll through, right after my last post. I haven’t seen Brandon in about 4 days now. I looked for holes in my deck, still haven’t found any.

        Now my question is, “Does anyone have any idea why a bee would come hang out for about a week and then not return?”

        I’m a little sad that I haven’t seen him or the sweat bee, or the 3 wasps (mud dobbers maybe?) That showed up a couple days after Brandond did.

        • sprigglys on May 31, 2019 at 9:20 pm

          Hopefully your bees have just found another spot to settle down for the season, and were simply passing through your property in their search for the perfect home. Keep on the lookout, as I’m sure there are other bees, wasps, and other beneficial insects enjoying your garden even as we speak!

    • Irene on May 25, 2020 at 3:54 pm

      I Named mine Mitch, they are all Mitch or Mitchie LOLOLOL

  25. Patty on June 20, 2019 at 4:43 pm

    I have had carpenter bees for years, they love the over-hang on my deck. I am afraid that there are so many holes it is starting compromise the structure. Can I fill the holes without harm to the bees when it get cold ? or are they hibernating in the holes during the cold season?

    • sprigglys on June 24, 2019 at 8:40 pm

      Thanks for the comment! They spend the winter in the holes, and will simply burrow around any plugs that you put in place. Due to their generational nesting habits, carpenter bees are difficult to remove once they have become established. One option is to remove the wood with galleries and put it into a nearby forest or similar natural space. This will hopefully encourage the carpenters to remain where you move them. Replace the wood that you remove with painted or stained wood. In our experience, it is usually predators like wood peckers that end up causing the most damage to a structure as they try to get into the carpenter bee galleries. I would recommend not taking action until you see evidence of this kind of damage, as sharing a small part of your house with these important insects is an easy way to help them survive into the future!

  26. fred on July 10, 2019 at 3:14 pm

    just sharing the fact that all info ive read about these carpenter bees suggest their not aggressive. this is not true. i was just sitting quietly in a chair in my yard and was attacked and stung by one without provocation at all…….

    • sprigglys on July 10, 2019 at 3:23 pm

      Sorry to hear about your encounter- like you have read, they are not an aggressive species and being attacked by one is very rare. What were the circumstances surrounding the sting? Was it very windy, or did the bee get stuck in your hair or clothes?

      • fred on July 10, 2019 at 7:48 pm

        hi sprigglys and thank you for your reply. i think that god may have just giving me my immune booster is all 🙂 i dont know if there were any contributing factors but the weather is just a nice sunny summer day here and i was just relaxing in a chair with my coffee. i garden and have never noticed this aggression before that i can remember. i welcome and worry alot for our pollenators and wont be taking any harmful action. im just trying to coexsist and help them help our world propogate. ive been very worried about losing them. the only thing i can say is just before it flew at me i noticed it buzzing around another carpenter bee but i dont know why. i have been seeing them look like there nesting in my shed wall right where they were buzzing about 5 feet from me. i just wanted to share and hope the bees find me the next time and sit and share my coffee or tea. god bless all gods creatures and pray for enlightenment in our journey together…….

  27. fred on July 10, 2019 at 9:27 pm

    btw when it landed it was on the rim of my ear canal. maybe it thought my ear canal was a home before i gently tried to shake my head to shoo it away idk. 🙂 all is well and the pain and swelling is finally subsiding. thank you and god bless us all in our journey together…….

  28. Maureen on July 20, 2019 at 8:51 pm

    I live on Cape Cod where our weathered shingled cottages should be prime gallery sites. I’ve always assumed the round holes are made by woodpeckers who really create a jackhammer racket in spring. But now I’m rethinking the holes. I bring this up because I have three catmint plants in my garden. Each year after blooming, most people cut them back to the ground to get a full second bloom, but once the flowers are gone the bees come en mass and they stick around until fall, so I leave them up. I can’t imagine what they find to pollinate through two months. I thought they were bumblebees but was horrified to google bumbles and learned instead my black-butted friends are carpenter bees. Yikes. Thanks to your article I will keep the spent catmint up for the carpenters. In several years I haven’t seen an unreasonable number of holes in my shingles. Thanks for talking me off the ledge.

    • sprigglys on July 29, 2019 at 1:12 am

      Thank you so much for reading and for anything you can do for pollinators, especially the lesser-tolerated pollinators like carpenter bees! They get a bad rap they do not deserve and are an indispensable part of our ecosystem.

  29. Ann Hermitege on August 3, 2019 at 1:32 pm

    We have just started clearing a huge pile of old compost and bits of wood and have uncovered what looks to be carpenter bees nest. Masses of them flying round on our allotment. Not sure what to do. We don’t want to kill the bees but do need to move this compost heap. Will they just relocate somewhere else. Please suggest what to do. Many thanks. There is a honey bee hive on another allotment.

    • sprigglys on August 7, 2019 at 12:34 am

      Thank you for the question. They are probably carpenter bees or bumble bees. If you have the ability to wait until the first frost, the bees will have either died off or entered a dormant state. That would make it very easy for you to then move your compost heap. If you can’t wait, try and locate their nest and move it to a sheltered area nearby. Wear long sleeves, gloves, a hat, and sunglasses just in case they decide to get grumpy. If you send us an email at info@sprigglys.com with pictures of the nest, we can help you identify the bees and come up with a good solution!

  30. James on September 22, 2019 at 2:32 pm

    Thanks for wonderful article!
    I was just taught yesterday how to build a carpenter bee trap and was considering doing so but worried about lack of pollination around my home and garden,
    My mind is made up thanks to you.
    Enjoy the bees AND their benefits.
    NO BEE TRAPS HERE!!!

    • sprigglys on October 28, 2019 at 11:25 pm

      Thank you so much! We are so happy to hear this. If you ever have any questions, let us know! Sorry for the delay in our response.

  31. Cristin on January 25, 2020 at 6:53 pm

    This article is nearing 2 years old at this point, but I felt compelled to reply anyway just in case anyone reading this has had any success in encouraging carpenter bees to move from a well-established home into a new one.

    We have a second-story deck with a roof overhang and built-in benches along it’s perimeter. Of course, when we purchased the house, this quickly became my favorite place to hang out.

    I began to notice large bees hovering above and below the porch. Though I wasn’t sure what they were, they quickly became some if my favorite insects just because they were so stinkin’ adorable AND helped protect our porch.

    On countless occasions I would be out there repotting plants. These bees would just hover nearby,coming to investigate me occasionally. When I would find a large stick or rock in my potting soil, I would throw it over the edge of the porch. I began to notice that if a bee saw this, they would fly after the stick, following it almost to the ground.

    I showed my husband, and we both agreed that these bees made more of an effort at playing fetch than our own dog did!

    Obviously, this was done instinct to chase away other flying creatures to protect their best, but it was still entertaining.

    In fact, sooo many times while I was out there we’d see wasps flying around the back porch (which is problematic only because of allergy concerns), and the bees would chase them away!

    So in addition to pollinating the plants in our garden, entertaining us with games of fetch and their curious little hovery-buzzy behavior, they helped protect our property from stinging wasps!

    Unfortunately, our porch is showing signs of concerning structural damage.

    We have neither the funds to have the wood replaced nor the ability to do it ourselves. So, before the damage progressed, I was hoping to figure out a way to encourage the bees to move.

    We have built a strategically-placed woodpile of branches and logs near to the problem areas, but it has been there for nearly two years now with no sign of bee inhabitation. I saw cedar and pine being mentioned, so that’s our next move.

    But I was simply curious if anyone else had figured out a good method without harming the bees.

    Sorry for my long-winded post.

    I just love our bees so much. <3

    • sprigglys on January 27, 2020 at 6:15 pm

      Thanks for your great comment, and for your clear appreciation and care for your carpenter bees!

      First off, it sounds like you are doing everything right so far. An addition of cedar or pine to your woodpile would hopefully help- make sure to keep the pieces horizontal and above any nearby grass or plants to try and mimic the position of dead branches in a forest. They do prefer sheltered spots over those exposed to the elements- if your woodpile is alone out in the open, make sure it’s not being bullied by the weather.

      As you’ve learned carpenter bees are homebodies who don’t readily vacate a space once they have established some galleries. They will eventually start looking for other locations, however, especially if your deck is showing signs of wear. Over time this will lead to less carpenter bees living in your porch. Keeping a well stocked pile nearby will hopefully be an attractive lure for newer generations as they emerge. If you are seeing large chunks of wood missing or being torn out, that is probably woodpecker damage. Reflective stickers and/or flash tape can help to keep them away.

      Hopefully you see some bees start to move from your house into your pile this season. Please be in touch and let us know how it goes!

  32. Heather on March 29, 2020 at 7:04 pm

    A little late to the post, I have gone back and forth with these new and have coffee to the same conclusion. They seem to make a home on my deck and with that the male bees chase away any wasps that are interested in coming around as we sit outside.

    • sprigglys on March 31, 2020 at 3:02 pm

      Thanks for the comment! We will keep that in mind for the future. Interesting fact about the wasps, that could certainly be an additional benefit to letting your neighborhood carpenters settle down in and around your house.

  33. Ashley on April 4, 2020 at 2:29 am

    I have a very special relationship with my carpenter bees going on 3 years. I anxiously await their emergence in the spring. Their gallery is on the railing of my deck. I work from home so I spend around 5 hours a day out there gardening, tanning and working. I name them every year, and this years male is Billy Bee. I usually only have 2 each year, but this year there are 5 in the yard! They have always stayed very close to me when I’m outside and love when I talk to them. They know they are safe from me and we always have a good relationship. This year however, Billy Bee is being far more friendly than any carpenter bee before. I cant help but to feel like it’s a super special friendship. He hovers 1-10 feet from me for the entire hours long time I’m outside on the deck. He also chases off any wasp or other insect that comes near. In reality i know he’s just monitoring me to make sure his dwelling is safe, but it still feels special. The thing is, while he’s with me, he’s not out with the flowers doing his bee thing. Is his hanging out with me keeping him from eating? Is the constant staying with me because he’s stressed and in super protect mode? Or could it be possible that he just enjoys hanging out with me the whole time? Amazing article and thank you for educating people on how to love these creatures.

    • sprigglys on April 6, 2020 at 2:45 pm

      Thank you for this wonderful comment! I wouldn’t worry too much about your bees going hungry- the normal day for males seems to involve stocking up on food and then sticking to their territory for a chunk of time, and then returning to flowers for quick bites. Studies have actually found that male carpenter bees learn to recognize their bee ‘neighbors’, and they give bees they recognize more leeway if they wander into their territory. If I had to guess, Billy Bee recognizes you as a neighbor, and is simply observing you as you go about your business. If he were more stressed, you would probably be on the receiving end of multiple head butts. Thank you again for your story, and for caring about these important insects!

  34. Liz on April 7, 2020 at 12:55 pm

    Last year I bought ahouse with a carport built in the ‘70’s. I’ve seen a lot of carpenter bees around the entrance since I moved in. I’d like to let them live there because I appreciate pollinators, but I’m concerned about the damage to me carport . How can I tell the extent of the damage?

    • sprigglys on April 8, 2020 at 1:02 pm

      Unfortunately (and luckily aesthetically), it can be difficult to assess the extent of their galleries just by looking at them. If you are seeing a lot of carpenter bees, chances are there are some impressive tunnels in your carport. Have you noticed woodpeckers and/or their damage? Most real and overwhelming damage comes from woodpeckers trying to excavate your pollinating friends. I would recommend you keep an eye out for curious woodpecks, and if they start showing an interest in your carport, hang some reflecting markers or stickers to help keep them away. This will hopefully be the best of both worlds, where you’re able to give your local carpenters a place to live while also avoiding crippling damage to your structure.

  35. Laura on May 4, 2020 at 8:17 am

    Recently, I’ve noticed quite a few “bee houses” or “bee boxes” being sold in stores & online. Here is an example: https://www.target.com/p/evergreen-garden-bee-habitat-wall-mounted/-/A-79125194?ref=tgt_adv_XS000000&AFID=google_pla_df&fndsrc=tgtao&CPNG=PLA_Patio%2BGarden%2BShopping&adgroup=SC_Patio%2BGarden&LID=700000001170770pgs&network=g&device=c&location=1020414&ds_rl=1246978&ds_rl=1248099&ds_rl=1247068&gclid=Cj0KCQjw-r71BRDuARIsAB7i_QNFZQosDSvJopVm79lcplBUIXG9rFK1BhYmaDeFATAG3cfb4qSN_kwaAnOcEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds
    Do you know if carpenter bees will use these types of houses or does their nature require them to carve out the holes from themselves? Thank you for your advice & a great article.

    • sprigglys on May 4, 2020 at 4:06 pm

      hank you for your comment! This is a good question, and one that requires several answers.

      First off, you are correct that carpenter bees prefer to use holes that they excavate themselves. They do also re-use carpenter bee galleries, however they are normally of larger diameters than those found in man-made bee houses, which are made for solitary mason bees, leafcutter bees, and other beneficial insects like solitary wasps. Carpenter bee galleries are also normally much longer than the short space allowed in man-made solutions like the one you linked. Houses like that will not attract carpenter bees, rather the beneficial solitary wood nesting insects that are already in and around your property.

      I would not recommend you purchase the house you linked, however. This is for several reasons. First off, it is difficult to gauge the diameter and depth of the holes provided. Each species tends to prefer specific diameters, and many commercially available houses neglect to make their holes actually livable for North American native bees and wasps. The tunnels need to be at least 6 inches deep- anything shallower, and the ratio of males to female eggs laid becomes skewed, which is very bad. They can be longer than 6 inches, however this is another aspect that many commercial houses miss. This house looks too shallow from the picture, however it’s hard to tell. Also, it is hard to tell if the back of the ‘house’ is closed off or not. It is best to have a housing solution with a closed off back, to help ward off pests and predators.

      I recommend you either purchase a man-made native bee house somewhere where you can see it in person, so that you can take a look at the diameters and measurements for yourself before buying, or from a seller who is clearly invested in making houses that take the lives of the creatures they are attempting to attract into consideration. For an example, please visit our website at https://www.sprigglys.com/native-bee-house/, and check out the native bee cabins we make.

      Thank you for making sure you are doing the right things for the important pollinators and other insects in your area!

  36. Bee Well | Endeavours and Creative Things on May 11, 2020 at 10:32 pm

    […] read about carpenter bees, and help them do what they do best. https://sprigglys.com/2018/02/22/carpenter-bees/. If you don’t want to share your home with them, there are simple ways to give them a home […]

  37. Cassandra on May 15, 2020 at 1:41 pm

    Hi. I have a screened in porch that is above a carport, so the gaps in the floorboards are big enough for carpenter bees to get in from below. I think they are nesting in the wood from the underside, which is fine. I have been working from home for a few weeks out on the porch, and I notice that the carpenter bees have a strange habit of coming up into the screened in porch through the floor and getting trapped. Once they are inside, all they do is crawl around on the screen seemingly looking for a way out. I am starting to form a theory that this mainly happens when the sun is shining on the screen. On cloudy days and in the evening (screen faces east) they do not seem to get trapped. However, one days when they do, I can trap and release and then (presumably) the same bee will be back within 5-10 minutes. I was wondering if you had any insight into why this is happening. I don’t want them to starve to death being trapped on the porch.

    • sprigglys on May 22, 2020 at 7:57 pm

      Interesting- that’s a new one to me. I will do some digging, and reply back if I find any known reasons why they are wandering up during the day. Maybe it is also cooler, and they are looking for some respite from the sun before realizing they are trapped? Would putting a carpet down be too much of a hassle? That might keep them out. Thank you for trying to keep them from getting stuck, and keep us updated on anything you try that works!

  38. Katie on May 22, 2020 at 7:47 pm

    Hello! I found this blog and it made me rethink getting rid of the carpenter bee that has begun making it’s home in our wooden firewood cradle. However, it has chosen to burrow into the part of the cradle that is right next to our back door. I am not allergic to bee’s, but I am almost irrationally afraid of bee’s. I also respect what they do for garden’s and the overall environment as a whole so I don’t want to kill it or ruin the nest it has begun to create. But I would like it to not be so close to our back door so I can go outside without freaking out. We are going to try using citrus water (boiled citrus in water, cooled, then poured over the post) as well as the speaker method. Are there any other methods that you suggest to either move the nest (wood cradle) or to encourage it to leave?

    • sprigglys on May 22, 2020 at 8:06 pm

      Thanks for your message!I wouldn’t feel too bad about persuading them to move elsewhere now, since you are saving them a lot of work by moving them when they’re just getting started versus waiting until later in the season. Hopefully, since they haven’t invested much energy into the gallery yet, they will be easily drawn away by your citrus applications and music blasting. Make sure you pick music that bees like, maybe some Queen or Sting. As mentioned in the blog, try to have attractive nesting sites nearby if possible like standing or fallen dead trees, limbs, or wood piles. You could also move the wood cradle, like you said. Move it on a cool night, to make sure the bee is inside and slowed down due to the cold. Wear a hat and gloves, however I doubt the bee will give you any trouble. Keep us updated, and good luck!

  39. Katie Ruwe on May 23, 2020 at 7:16 pm

    Thank you! We took a long stick and knocked around the wood a bit because it didn’t seem to mind the music. But the music did keep it at bay after it flew off and it allowed us to work. We covered the cradle with some lime water, and poured some over the wood for good measure. We put a piece of lime rind in the hole as well. He did come back to investigate, but did not like the lime and left. We did take a few pieces of ‘clean’ wood from a neighbor and set it up in a garden well away from the back door just in case it wants to come back!

    • sprigglys on May 25, 2020 at 12:34 pm

      Glad to hear about your success- keep us updated if anything changes!

  40. Diana and Simon Harrison on May 23, 2020 at 7:23 pm

    Thank you so much for all the info. We have many flowers and a garden. This year our carpenter bees decided to make a home on our deck, in the newly put up roof rafters. She started yesterday. I didn’t bother her, but thought about it. My Mom has always disliked them. So glad I found your info. She has continued her work today, as the wood shavings are everywhere. Glad she is there. We have many wasps, too, but they never seem to bother us. Maybe that’s why our bee friend moved in! We can all get along and have many blooms this year. God bless you!

    • sprigglys on May 25, 2020 at 12:35 pm

      Thank you for your comment, and for giving your carpenter bee friend a home. I think you will learn to like and appreciate them even more as they live close to you!

  41. Nancy Bennett on May 24, 2020 at 11:28 am

    I just moved into this home in November. It has a wonderful screened in porch that I couldn’t wait to hang out on . I am loving all of the flowers that are inherent to the property – lilacs, iris, lilies, etc. However, I have jokingly been calling my screened in porch a Bee Hospice. So I started googling around to see what I could find. I have one or two carpenter bees show up daily, crawl around on my screens (I leave the door to the outside propped open at all times so my Bernese Mountain dog can wander in and out) and in a day or two at the most, they are dead on the floor. I rarely see them fly. I was surprised to see how long they live, but am sad to see them dying on my porch. I have plants on my porch as well, chenilles, gardenia, ferns and a couple shamrocks. I haven’t found any bore holes on the framework of the porch that is painted. So I think they are just wandering in. It was wonderful to read about what great pollinators they are. So my question is: is there something that is causing them to die on my screened in porch? If so, I would love to fix it. If they are just coming to die in my porch because it is peaceful and surrounding them with all the yummy smells of my gardenia, I am happy to welcome them to my Bee Hospice.

    • sprigglys on May 25, 2020 at 12:42 pm

      Interesting- we have heard about carpenter bees getting stuck in screened in porches from other readers, and are not quite sure why. Maybe they are seeking some cool shade, or are looking for a new nest, and get stuck. Have you been able to notice if the dead bees have yellow spots on their foreheads? I would be curious to know if the stuck bees are males, females, or a mix of both. That might help determine why they’re finding screened in porches so attractive. Males typically have those large, yellow dots on their faces. If you could take a tally of any bees you find, and if they have facial dots, please report back! Until then, leaving the door open as you are already doing is excellent. I would also recommend placing a shallow dish filled with water somewhere on the porch, so that any stuck bees can get a drink if they need. Putting some stones, sand, or other material in the dish is a good way to give bees a ‘landing pad’ in the dish. Thanks for your comment, and hopefully we’ll hear from you soon.

  42. Laura on May 24, 2020 at 3:14 pm

    I’ve been looking for my “buddy” carpenter bee this morning, but I don’t think he comes out until it warms up in the day. Then, he hovers in the same area, as we’ve all seen, but I can’t, for the life of me find any holes or covered holes. I have no idea where the nest is!! He’s in front of my porch, but there’s nothing visible anywhere! I’ve really come to enjoy watching him, and when I’m out drinking coffee, it’s almost like he’s dancing for me. He’s got to be guarding something but I have no idea what. How can I figure that out? I also love watching him carry away any wasps that get too close. I guess they can grab on. I wonder why he moves away when I come to take a closer look at him. I thought he’d be curious. I do say he, as I’ve never seen him boring any wood. It’s just so weird that I can’t find the nest! It’s driving me nuts. Any help appreciated!

    • sprigglys on May 25, 2020 at 12:47 pm

      That definitely sounds like a male- they tend to stake out their territories and stick to them during the day. If you can get a closer look, males tend to also have a large yellow dot on their forehead, which makes their identification easier. As you’ve seen, they’re very quick to boot other creatures, especially predators, out of their domain as they wait for females to pass by. They have been found to be able to recognize their neighbors, though, and they are less aggressive towards those they recognize. If you are in close contact every day, chances are your friend remembers you and doesn’t feel as much of a need to evict you as other creatures. (Don’t forget males don’t have stingers and pose little threat besides the occasional irritated headbutt).

      Males typically pick one of two locations for their territories, which are usually around 10 feet in diameter or so. Sometimes they will stake out a location near a nest, so that they can easily find females as they travel to and fro during the day. Another is prime flowering sites, which sometimes are pretty far away from the nest. If you have a healthy supply of flowers in and around your property, your buddy could have claimed them as his territory. In that case, it will be very hard to find the nest- studies have found that carpenter bees have been able to find their nest from up to 7 miles away, so they can travel extremely far to get forage if they find a good spot. In some cases the males might not even live in the nest at all, and might shelter in the landscape near their territory.

      In any case, your space has been deemed attractive enough for his territory, so I would definitely take it as a compliment. Thank you for your comment, and please keep us updated on how your bee friend does this year!

  43. Laura on May 25, 2020 at 4:33 pm

    Hi and thank you for the reply! I do have a flower garden directly underneath the porch where he hovers. I’ve seen him in the flowers. Great for pollination. I sit about 5 to 6 feet from him on the porch. He darts up very often removing those who fly by. I really like that he keeps the wasps from coming near me. I know males can’t bite/sting, but I also like the big bumble bees who can, yet really never do. I do live in a highly wooded area, so a nest coukd be in the trees somewhere. He does spend a lot of time just “looking at me” until an unwanted creature flies by. We also have backyard “buzzy” who hovers over a glass table every day. Again, no sightings of any nest, but he’s usually in the same spot. We walk by and he doesn’t seem to mind. Occasionally, I see 2 carpenters atop the roof and wonder if it’s front yard buzzy and backyard, defending their territories. They seem to fight a bit. Other than those two, I see no others. I’m sitting on the porch now but my buddy hasn’t shown up today. It’s a little overcast and not that hot, but warm enough…. Wonder where he is. Do they move on after some time for any reason? He’s been here every day for at least a week. Hmmm

    Thanks again for your expertise in answering my questions! I’ll just keep studying them.

    Laura

    • sprigglys on May 25, 2020 at 6:00 pm

      No problem, we’re happy to answer any questions you might have about garden insects. Depending on how their season has been going so far, and how significant the impending weather is, your bee might be taking a day off from most of his duties. The male carpenter bee’s life of brazen patrolling is very dangerous, and males generally have short life spans especially compared to females. They almost always live for longer than a week or two, though, so keep your eye out for his return!

      • Laura on May 28, 2020 at 2:16 am

        Hi, thank you! The males only live for a week or 2? I didn’t know that. 😔 “Buzzy” did come back that day, but from then forward, he’s attracted some “frien-amies”. I’ve seen at least 4 at one time now. One particular bee I believe was not “Buzzy” was one who acted in a completely different manner. This bee landed on the underside of the porch wood constantly, and seemed very interested in the wood. The others have been fighting, and I’m not sure how easily a bee would give up their territory. I’m kind of sad… (this coming from someone who had pet snails as a kid)

        Thank you!
        Laura

  44. Katelyn on May 26, 2020 at 6:31 pm

    Hi! I seem to have carpenter bee friends who have started holes in a part of my porch roof. They unfortunately are right in front of my front door so I am always terrified to leave, even to grab the mail LOL Do you think they will get aggravated at my family since we are so close to where they decided to stay?? I don’t want to have to ask them to leave ): Also, should I even be scared of them??

    Thanks in advanced!!

    • sprigglys on May 26, 2020 at 7:24 pm

      Thank you for your comment! Because of their large size and curious nature, it is common to be a bit afraid of carpenter bees. But you do not need to be scared, because they are some of the most docile insects around.

      They will not attack you for being close to their nest (called a gallery), unless you physically try and tear into the wood, in which case you are probably asking for it. The females, which do have stingers, are not agitated by people hanging around their galleries. They should not bother you at all. The males, which can usually be told apart from females due to a large yellow dot on their forehead, do claim territories that they keep clear of other animals whenever possible, including humans. Males are very charismatic and will get in your face to challenge you, and they will also follow you around and observe your movements through their territory. You do not need to be afraid of them either, however, since the males do not have a stinger and are all buzz and no sting. The most offensive encounter with a male will end with them headbutting you out of curiosity, however they will not sting or bite you. Studies have actually found that males are able to remember their neighbors, both insects and other animals, so eventually the males in your area will learn to remember you and give you less of a hassle when you wander through their territory.

      Please keep in touch and let us know if you have any other questions or concerns about your new roommates. Thanks again for reaching out instead of simply killing these important insects!

      • Vince on May 27, 2020 at 1:33 am

        Hello my wife and I have lived in our home for about 10yrs. Probably the 2nd yr we were there, I noticed carpenter bees nesting in an old “dog” door on side of garage. They have been there every spring since, and I would agree, they are truly fascinating creatures. We live near buffalo, ny so we enjoy our warm months on our patio adjacent to garage (where bees live). They definitely recognize us, I think a little more every year. They will patrol our patio constantly (no yellowjackets), and will get within 2-3″of my finger. My question is do they like a very light/fine mist on hot days? I also have cockatiels that I bring out with us and they will actually defend them from other bees/flies as well. As I was misting birds, they appeared to be attracted to it, so I continued to mist the bees. Thanks sorry so long

        • sprigglys on May 27, 2020 at 8:34 pm

          Thank you for the comment, we love to hear stories of carpenter bees and people/pets getting along together. I’ve never tried misting carpenter bees, but because of their large size they can fly in pretty heavy rainfall without hassle. They also dislike extreme heat, and probably enjoyed the cooling mist you provided. Maybe they were even able to get a drink as well. I will have to try it for myself! Thank you for sharing your story, and for caring about your local carpenter bees!

  45. JERRY SPOONER on May 27, 2020 at 5:44 pm

    DO CARPENTER BEES PRODUCE HONEY

    • sprigglys on May 27, 2020 at 8:38 pm

      They do produce a honey-like sugary product, however they only make it in small supplies that they use to feed their young. Even though they don’t make honey in significant quantities, the other benefits that they provide through pollination and as food for other wildlife more than make up for it!

  46. Gary on June 24, 2020 at 11:00 pm

    I just found your website, and have been reading post after post. It is wonderful what you are doing. I thought I might send a note regarding ‘my’ carpenter bees. Hope this does’nt get too long.

    3 awsome big fellows, 1 just above my head in the potting shed fasia board next to our gazebo, he is always around, and any company we have at the time are told he is just curious about them, and 1 more around the corner (facia again), and most amusing is the one in the front of my working/plant potting table. As I’m lucky enough to work outside in the buff this would be intolerable if it was a wasp or hornet, but true to the carpenter/bumble bee tolerence, he is just nosy and a good observer of garden prepping.

    Will look to Amazon for your book.

    G.

    • sprigglys on June 29, 2020 at 12:55 pm

      Thank you for your comment, glad you found us! It is always good to hear stories of people living alongside their local carpenter bees. Have a great summer, and please post again with any questions or concerns you might have about these important insects.

  47. Janet Geren on July 30, 2020 at 4:06 am

    I love these bees, I thought they were bumble bees at first. They are so sweet and gentle. I can touch them and they are fine with that. Sometimes though, they seem like they are drunk? Anyone know why,

    • sprigglys on August 3, 2020 at 12:34 pm

      Thanks for your comment! From what I gather, bees and other pollinators can sometimes become ‘drunk’ off of nectar if they drink a whole lot and/or it has fermented slightly in the flower. This can also be seen in honey bee swarms, since the swarm feasts on honey before they leave the nest in search of a new hive, making them all extremely passive. It is probably similar to the effects of a few drinks.

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