Monday, June 2, 2014

Pest of the Month- Carpenter Bees

Fig. 1. A carpenter bee visiting a flower. Note the yellow hairs on the thorax and the shiny black abdomen, which is hairless. (Photograph Tom Murray )

Fig. 2. A section of wood cut in half to expose the chambers or cells constructed by a carpenter bee. (USDA Forest Service Archive, USDA Forest Service,

Injury: Carpenter bees bore into wood to make a home for their young. In preferred sites, bees can drill a large number of holes. They are holes 1/2 inch in diameter. Often the same nesting sites are used year after year, and the same tunnels are reused. Porches, garages, shed ceilings and trim, railings, roof overhangs and outdoor wooden furniture, are all common nesting sites. Continued borings may weaken some wooden structures, and the yellow "sawdust and pollen" waste materials may stain cars, clothing, or furniture.

Behavior: The males are territorial, and in the spring they often guard the potential nest sites. They discourage intruders by hovering or darting at any moving thing that ventures into the nesting area. This can create a "human annoyance" factor, and it is one that often startles and concerns the homeowner.

However, male carpenter bees do not sting. The female carpenter bee, like many other bees, can sting - but it is uncommon for her to do so.

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