What’s that buzzing by my ear? Yikes! What just dive bombed me? What’s that saw dust under my wood fence? How did that little hole get there? Where is my tennis racket? These are all common comments and questions that arise right around the early part of spring when the big bees come out to play. Commonly called carpenter bees, these pests make tiny holes in wood with such precision that one would think that a drill bit made them.
Carpenter bees will use any exposed wooden part of the home as a place to build their nest. Places like wooden fences, posts, fascia board, headers, wooden siding and the like are all fair game. These bees also find their way under metal or vinyl siding if there is a wood member they are dig into. These bees can cause some damage, with drilling the actual hole and then the gallery they dig out can become bigger and bigger each year, which can compromise that particular piece of wood, but nothing like damage that can be caused by other wood destroying insects.
Physical signs to look for to determine active infestation would be what looks like saw dust under wood or a drippy black smudge coming down under siding or capped wood. Obviously holes that appear on wooden posts or other structures would be a tell tale sign. The hole is about a half inch big.
Carpenter bees are a solitary bee, although it might seem like a swarm of them are infesting your area. That just means that you have multiple holes already present on your home that they are living in or new bees looking for a home. The other thing to consider is that these bees do sting, at least the female bee will sting you, although she is usually too busy doing all the work. The ones that poke at your head and chase you are the males, and the males do not sting. So as always use caution when being around bees, especially if you are allergic.
The best way to control these bees is to treat the area they are infesting in the early spring and the end of the summer. That should break the life cycle of the bee as they are a yearly problem. This treatment might be considered yearly until eventually no bees are noticed. Some other methods you may have heard about is to paint all the wood surfaces of your home with a heavy paint. I’m not sure how practical that is and you also have to consider that these bees will get into and under caps and covers to get to wood that can’t be painted, so all that work might be for nothing.