Image for the article titled How to Get Carpenter Bees Out of Your Garden Without Killing Them

Photo: Zety Akhzar (Shutterstock)

Bees may be small, but they play an important role in ecosystems and pollinate trees, flowers, and other plants. But one type of bee does not only pollinate: the carpenter bee.

Unlike bumblebees or honey bees, carpenter bees do not live in colonies. Instead, they drill into the wood and create a nest (which looks like a small, round hole) to lay their eggs, according to Dr. Michael F. Potter, an entomologist at the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment.

And sometimes the wood they choose for their nest is part of people’s homes. Once you’ve discovered that carpenter bees have made their home, you may want to encourage them to nest elsewhere – without harming them and thereby harming the local ecosystem. Here’s how to do it.

Interesting facts about carpenter bees

Carpenter bees are big and black and look like bumblebees. The difference is that carpenter bees usually have a shiny, hairless abdomen, while bumblebees typically have a hairy abdomen with black and yellow stripes.

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When it comes to finding a nesting site, carpenter bees prefer unpainted, weathered wood – especially softer varieties such as sequoia, cedar, cypress, and pine. Notes from Potter. So when they do decide to move into your home, they prefer places like eaves, rafters, dashboards, siding, wooden riddled roofs, patios, and patio furniture.

And while carpenter bees don’t typically do as much damage as termites, they can cause both cosmetic and structural damage. Potter explains:

Female carpenter bees dig new tunnels in wood to lay eggs or enlarge and use old ones. Significant damage can occur if the same pieces of wood are attacked year after year. Holes in the wood surface also encourage the ingress of moisture, rot and rot.

Carpenter bees are usually not fans of painted wood. Painting untreated wooden surfaces in your home can therefore prevent them from forming nests in the first place.

This is a safe way to get rid of carpenter bees

If carpenter bees have already made your home their home, there are a few ways to encourage them to move without harming the tiny pollinators. Here are a few featured in an article by Julia Rittenberg in Popular Science:

  1. Apply a drop of almond or citrus oil into the nest holes of the carpenter bees, Nick Hoefly, a beekeeper Astor apiaries in Queens, New York, across from Popular Science. They’re not fans of these fragrances and will likely want to move on and find another place to nest. When they are undressed, fill the holes with a wooden spatula or steel wool.
  2. Hang up a couple of wind chimes. According to Hoefly, carpenter bees hate their noises, so the constant noise could drive them away.
  3. Leave some weathered, untreated pieces of wood that you no longer need outside – but far enough from your home – to provide alternative housing for the carpenter bees.