Carpenter Bees will eat your house.

Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Shoreline New Hampshire & Maine

Carpenter Bees are swarming right now and they could be eating your house.

They love any sort of soft, unpainted wood such as deck rails, outside buildings, soffits, and other areas they can bore into and build a new colony.

The most telltale sign of their activity are little piles of sawdust. Usually if you look upwards over the sawdust piles you will spot a small, perfectly round hole which is the new hive entrance.

Another clue you can often observe, especially on light surfaces is light yellowish brown spotting on vertical surfaces like walls and support posts. This a a mixture of pollen and bee feces and another sign of bee activity.

Bumble bees closely resemble Carpenter Bees except the Bumbles have yellow hairs on their black abdomens.  Carpenter Bee, no yellow hairs.

Bumble Bee                   Carpenter Bee

Once you've spotted them and identified them as Carpenter Bees, it's fairly simple to get rid of them assuming you can reach their holes.

They're mostly safe to get close to; only the female has a stinger. The males will buzz around and make lots of noise but they can't hurt you.

Here's a few solutions including some 'green' ones.

  • Simply fill in the entry hole to the next with wood putty. Oddly the bees won't try to dig their way out but simple remain in the nest until they die. Sand and paint over the puttied surface to make sure a new batch doesn't try to return to the same area. 
  • Wait until later in the evening when they're all in the nest and take a vacuum (shop vac type) cleaner out, tap around the entry hole to agitate them and just suck them into the vacuum tank.
  • Most any Raid type of insecticide will kill them too; just stick the nozzle or opening into their hole and fill it full. Be sure and follow product directions and wash your hands thoroughly after using.

Once you've gotten rid of them you should paint any untreated wood surfaces, especially soft woods like Pine, to discourage their return. If they liked a spot once chances are good other Carpenter Bees will like it again if left unpainted.

Here's a little Flip video I shot of our carport after I sprayed and a wandering bee returned home to find an empty next.

In case you're in the Knoxville area and need a house, is a great place to start.

Posted by

Jim Lee , REALTOR®, Certified Residential Specialist (CRS)  RE/MAX Shoreline

100 Market St., Suite #200, , Portsmouth, NH 03801 Phone: (603) 431-1111 x3801

Visit New Hampshire Maine Real to search homes, get Seacoast area information, and find out how great living on the New Hampshire and southern Maine Seacoast really is.


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Kathy McGraw
CELLing Realty - White Water, CA
Riverside County CA Real Estate

Jim- Wow, where was this post when I had 2 big nests of bees :)  I called the Bee Squad in as I didn't know what to do, and there were so many I didn't even want to use my back door.  Loved the Post, and the 8 seconds of fast bee activity FLIP show  :)

Apr 28, 2009 12:22 PM #1
Michele Connors
The Overton Group, LLC Pitt & Carteret County - Greenville, NC
Your Eastern North Carolina Realtor

Ive had them im my porch column..saw the saw dust in a pretty pile and blamed my then 5 yr old boy for the mess ...asking him to confess!!  :-) I remember saying what have you done here , what did you do this with ??? ! My neighbor looked at it and laughed... it was Carpenter bees and felt so bad blaming my son!

May 09, 2009 09:40 AM #2
Jim Lee
RE/MAX Shoreline - Portsmouth, NH
Portsmouth NH Realtor, Portsmouth, NH

Yep, I showed a listing this afternoon and one was just starting to bore a hole over the french doors from the patio.

We watched him work for a few minues. He bored his whole body length into the wood in about 3 minutes. Speedy little beggars.

May 09, 2009 11:13 AM #3
Jan Evett
The Premier Property Group LLC - Rosemary Beach, FL
Broker Associate, 20 years+ in real estate

Really interesting, lots of good information that I didn't know.  I think it might have been interesting (read: hilarious) if you had video-ed yourself sucking them out of their nest with the vacuum or whatever you did to kill them (should I say "poor bees?"). 

May 10, 2009 12:34 PM #4
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Jim Lee

Portsmouth NH Realtor, Portsmouth, NH
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