Carpenter Bees are great pollinators that help the environment. These creatures may be good for the environment, yet just with any other type of bee, people are curious whether they will sting you.
Male carpenter bees cannot sting you, yet the female carpenter bees can. However, unless you attack these bees or threaten them, the chances of a female carpenter bee stinging you is very low.
In this article, we will be talking about everything that you need to know about carpenter bees. Including 7 ways you can protect your home from these creatures, in case you are concerned about them stinging you.
What Do Carpenter Bees Look Like?
Before we get into how you protect your home from these insects, it is important that you are able to identify them first.
This way you can be sure that the problem you are facing are carpenter bees and not another species of bee.
The carpenter bee is part of the Xylocopa genus and the Xylocopinae subfamily. In addition to that, sometimes the carpenter bee can be referred to as the wood bees.
This is due to the fact that they like to use wood as their main material in their nests. Wood such as bamboo, pine, redwood or cedar are all commonly used by carpenter bees to create their nests.
Every species of bee has their own particular features, which is why you need to have a clear understanding of these features. Especially, if you want to identify a carpenter bee from any other species of bee.
Size – A carpenter bee is a similar size to a bumblebee. They are usually between ½ to 1 inch long.
Color – Carpenter bees can have different colors depending on whether they are male or female. Usually, they are solid black or yellow and black.
Thus, a male carpenter bee will have a black body, and a yellow face with a white dot found on their forehead. Whilst a female carpenter bee will be completely black on their bodies and face.
Body Shape – Commonly, these bees will have a hairless and shiny black abdomen. Alongside that, their body segments are separated clearly.
Antennae – Carpenter bees will have two antennae that are slightly bent in the center.
Nesting Behavior – As mentioned above, carpenter bees like to nest using untreated wood and inside other structures and homes.
Usually, it is the female carpenter bee that is more skilled at carving out nesting cavities in trees. Thus, this is where their name comes from.
Temperament – Male carpenter bees don’t have a stinger, therefore you cannot be stung by a male carpenter bee. As a result, you will see that male bees will commonly guard the nest, and if they see you approach they will fly at you aggressively and buzz.
It is the female carpenter bees that have a stinger, yet they will only attack if they feel threatened.
Carpenter Bees And Bumblebees
It is quite common to mistake bumblebees and carpenter bees for one another. This is because both species of bees are similar in size and have similar coloring.
Yet, there are a couple of differences that make it easy to differentiate carpenter bees from bumblebees.
The main difference between these two species of bee is that carpenter bees have a hairless, black and shiny abdomen. While bumblebees are known to have a black and yellow coat of hair on their abdomen.
In addition to that, you will see that carpenter bees are quite solitary bees, whereas bumblebees are much more social insects.
Finally, when it comes to nesting, carpenter bees like to nest in trees. While bumblebees will be seen nesting in burrows in the ground.
Carpenter Bees And Honey Bees
Just like honey bees, carpenter bees are very good pollinators. However, the downside is that carpenter bees can cause damage to your home and any other wooden structures that you may have in our yard.
Yet once again, carpenter bees and honey bees are often mistaken for one another. Although, just as with the bumblebee, there are some clear distinctions between carpenter bees and honey bees.
Usually, you find that honey bees live in hives and colonies. Yet, carpenter bees will live in any untreated wood that they can find.
Alongside that, honey bees have narrow and small bodies with quite thin wings. Yet, a carpenter bee is much larger than a honey bee.
Female Carpenter Bees
Female carpenter bees are a lot more interesting than the males. This is because the females have all the carpentry skills that give this species of bee their name.
It is the female carpenter bee that creates the nest and the areas where the bees can lay their eggs.
The female and male carpenter bee do look similar to one another, yet it is the white markings on the male’s head that helps you tell the two apart.
Furthermore, female carpenter bees are the only ones that are born with stringers. It is quite unlikely for you to get stung by a female carpenter bee unless you threaten or attack the bees.
Then there is a chance they may attack in those cases. Male carpenter bees cannot sting you, but they can be aggressive and fly at you and buzz if you come too close towards the nest.
Carpenter Bee Eggs And Larvae
A female carpenter bee will create a nest out of untreated wood. They will also create various channels for the eggs.
These are known as egg chambers. After the female carpenter bee has laid her eggs, she will die soon afterwards.
Once the eggs hatch, the larvae will feed on the pollen and nectar that has been left for them. Gradually, the larvae will continue to grow into adults and the cycle is restarted once again.
Carpenter bees will commonly collect nectar and pollen for their young. However, while they are collecting the nectar and pollen, this causes cross pollination among several plants.
As a result, carpenter bees are a really important species of bee that keep the balance of the ecosystem in place.
Will A Carpenter Bee Bite Or Sting You?
Commonly bees, no matter what, are known to sting, but sometimes a species of insect such as a bee can bite instead of sting.
Therefore, it is good to clear up the difference, just in case a few of you weren’t sure whether you could get bitten or stung by a carpenter bee.
As we have established, it is the female carpenter bee that will sting you, only if they feel threatened, or you happen to attack their nest with them inside.
Therefore, you can be sure that this species of bee won’t bite you.
In fact, it is known that carpenter bees do have mouths, yet they are tiny and only used to burrow and chew into wood. This action is done when they are creating their nests and channels within the nest for their eggs.
If you do happen to get stung by a female carpenter bee, then it is going to be quite painful. You can combat the pain by taking over the counter painkillers and antihistamines.
Although, in some cases, people have suffered a serious allergic reaction. This can include nausea, breathing difficulty and loss of consciousness.
If you happen to suffer with any of these effects, then you must seek medical treatment immediately.
You can only get stung by a female carpenter bee, therefore the males of the species aren’t that dangerous and won’t sting you.
Although, it is worth noting that male carpenter bees will usually guard their nests. If you come too close to the nests, then male carpenter bees will fly aggressively towards you.
Normally, a human will be intimidated by their aggressive behavior and loud buzz they make.
Treating Carpenter Bee Stings
In this section, we just want to go into a little more detail on what to do if you do happen to get stung by a female carpenter bee.
Usually, if you get stung, then you will feel pain in that area immediately. Alongside the pain, you may also feel a burning sensation as well.
It is important to note that you don’t need to worry about removing stingers from the area, as carpenter bees don’t lose their stingers. As a result, this is why a female carpenter bee is able to numerous times.
Once you have been stung by a carpenter bee, these are some of the first few things you should do afterwards:
- Clean the stung area using lukewarm water and soap. This is to help prevent any infections from occurring.
- Then, with a cold compress, apply it to the area. The compress will help to reduce any inflammation.
- If there happens to be any swelling, then you may want to apply an antihistamine cream to the area.
- Take antihistamine or painkillers if the pain is consistent.
If you happen to receive multiple stings from a carpenter bee or have a severe reaction to the bee sting such as dizziness, shortness of breath or nausea. Then you need to seek medical advice as soon as possible.
Are Carpenter Bees Dangerous
It is quite common for carpenter bees to nest inside, and this can cause various structural damage to your home.
Also, the feces of a carpenter bee can actually stain the wood surfaces, which then ruins the aesthetics of the wood in your home.
We know that female carpenter bees have stingers. Inside those stingers is venom, but as they don’t lose their stinger, a female carpenter bee can sting you multiple times.
However, as long as you don’t attack or disturb their nest, then these bees should leave you alone.
The majority of bee stings won’t cause you much harm. However, multiple carpenter bee stings can cause serious reactions.
Overall, carpenter bees can be dangerous if you disturb their nests or threaten them.
If you want to remove their nests, then it is advised to wear protective clothing, including gloves and goggles. Also approached them at night, as this is when they are the least active.
Behavior Of Carpenter Bee
Commonly this species of bee is more active during spring as the males are seeking out the females. Then it is the females which will create the nests, lay their eggs and die.
During late summer, the eggs will finally hatch and begin to grow.
Sometimes carpenter bees will create a nest in a log home. The entrance to the nest is tiny, but the bees can cause a lot of damage to the wood.
Established carpenter bee nests can last for years and cause a lot of issues and damage to the wood. Thus, it is important to take the proper action to get rid and keep carpenter bees away.
Carpenter Bee Infestation Signs
There are a few signs to look out for, if you think that you have a carpenter bee nest in your home. You should look out for these common signs of an infestation.
The most common and first sign you will notice is small round holes found in wooden structures within your home.
Hence, if you like there are carpenter bees in your home, look out for these small hotels which will be the size of your finger.
Crevices And Cracks
Keep an eye out for crevices and cracks in your indoor and outdoor wooden structures. If you notice any cracks, then you should fill them up with putty or wood glue.
Carpenter bees will dig a hole 1 inch deep into your wood. Therefore, by doing this digging, they are going to leave behind sawdust on the ground.
So, if you happen to come across piles of sawdust, this could mean carpenter bees.
Feces And Pollen
Yellow To brown stains is a sign of carpenter bees are close. Also, yellow specks around hotels in your wooden structure is a sign of the presence of these bees.
Protecting Your Home From Carpenter Bees
Carpenter bees are great for the environment as they help with cross pollination. However, not everyone enjoys these creatures within their wooden structures.
Therefore, the best thing to do is prevent a bee infection by following these simple tips. .
Paint Your Wooden Structures
Carpenter bees prefer natural and untreated wood. Therefore, if you paint the surface of any exposed wood. You are then making the wood structures in your home less attractive for the carpenter bees.
In addition to that, the surface that the paint will create, will make it difficult for the carpenter bees to dig into.
Keep Your Doors Shut
During the spring seasons, you should try to keep all the doors to your home shut. We have mentioned that carpenter bees are the most active during the spring, this includes searching for new areas for them to make and create their nests.
As a result, if you keep all the doors shut, you are preventing the carpenter bees from trying to nest inside your home.
Avoid Foods That Attract Bees
All bees are attracted to sugary foods and fruits. Therefore, you should keep all trash cans sealed and don’t leave any food open inside or outside the home.
Carpenter bees are believed to be quite sensitive to the vibration caused by sound waves. As a result, there is excessive noise near their nesting site. Then The bees will fly off and find a quiet place to make their nest.
Hence, if you think you have carpenter bees in your home, by setting up a noise machine or boombox, you are forcing the bees to move out and find somewhere new to nest.
Fill The Holes Of The Exposed Wood
If a carpenter bee happens to notice holes in your exposed wood, they will see this as an opportunity to try and dig and make a nest in that wooden structure.
Thus, you want to prevent this from happening, so when you come across any holes in your exposed wood, you should fill these holes up.
In addition to filling the hotels up, also spray a chemical onto the surface of the wood. The order of the chemical on the wood will stop the carpenter bee from trying to dig into that wood.
When you have spotted a nest in your wooden structure, then maybe you should consider spraying either citrus or almond oil on the area.
Although, you should be cautious when you are approaching the carpenter bee nest. It is important that you take all the precautionary measures and wear protective clothing, gloves and eyewear.
It is known that carpenter bees don’t like almond or citrus oil. Thus, if the scent of these oils is too strong, they will move on and find somewhere else to create a nest.
You can in fact purchase carpenter bee traps, which is commonly a small wooden box that has had holes drilled into it. There Is also a plastic bottle that is suspended below the box.
In the spring, when carpenter bees are on the hunt for a new nesting site, they can enter these boxes thinking it is a new place to create a nest in.
Then they will fall into the plastic bottle. One, the bees find their way into the small wooden box, it is quite difficult for them to find their way out. Then, once they are in the plastic bottle, they will usually die in the bottle.
We have mentioned just a few of the things you can do to prevent a carpenter bee infection in your home.
It is important to note, that from all the ways we have mentioned, it is not encouraged to choose methods that involve killing carpenter bees. This is because they are excellent pollinators that are vital to keep the ecosystem in balance.
You should try a number of these DIY treatments to try and prevent infestation of these bees.
Although, after you have tried all these tips, and you still have a carpenter bee problem, then it is best to seek the help from a professional who deals with pest management.
Can Wasp Spray Kill A Carpenter Bee?
A wasp spray won’t kill a carpenter bee, but it may temporarily stop the bee from flying. If you want to kill hornet bees, which we don’t advise, an insecticide dust is much more effective than a wasp spray.
The dust will be brought into the nest by the females and the dust will come into contact with the eggs. Thus killing them all.
Also, other poisons mixed with their foods will kill them. However, spraying poison on the wood won’t affect the bees, as they don’t eat wood as part of their diet.
Female carpenters are the bee that will sting you, but only if they are attacked, while the male bees will guard the nest.
Now you should have multiple ways you can treat and prevent a carpenter bee infestation in your own home. These bees are great for the ecosystem, yet they can cause real issues in our homes.
We hope this article has been enjoyable, and you have a better understanding of carpenter bees.