Some Interesting Facts About Wood Bees
Carpenter bees are often referred to as wood bees, and either name suits them quite well. Closely resembling the fuzzy bumble bee, the carpenter bee’s shiny black upper abdomen is the only discerning feature upon first glance. A closer examination of their daily habits will clarify the vast differences between the two species.
Avid and skilled pollinators, wood bees are a graceful and beautiful insect to watch. Prone to very curious behavior, yet a gentle and amiable nature, these peaceful creatures can be found in small gardens and country meadows all over the country. Though males are prone to bully-like dive bombing and other such antics, they don’t even have a stinger. And while the harmless males spend their energy showing off for the humans, the mild mannered, stinger-bearing females are hard at work drilling holes for their young.
The problem with this, most would agree, is not with the quality of her work. The holes she drills are precise and smooth, as if a contractor had drilled them with a large, pricey bit. Measuring up to ½ inch in diameter, allowing her just enough room to squeeze her sizable body through, the holes are drilled at the point of least resistance on bare wood. She then turns her attentions to drilling tunnels along the grain of the wood inside, where she will stack her eggs carefully, separating them with packed sawdust.
She will drill anywhere. Anything made of wood is fair game, from swing sets, to expensive fascia on housing and out buildings, to deck posts and trees. And though her talents are to be held in high regard, the damage that she can cause puts a rather high stake on property value and safety as well. Depending on the degree of infestation, these bees can weaken the very structure of the buildings that they nest in, and their habitual nesting habits will compound the problem.
Wood bees love to drill in inconspicuous, hard to reach places. If you have a multi story home, for example, you would be most likely to find them laying eggs within the uppermost area of the top floor. The main issue with this, for home owners, is that these bees are harder to detect than would be carpenter ants or termites, and the damage that they cause may not be noticeable right away. There are chemical pesticides and mass applications on the market for control and riddance of these bees, but there are some natural methods you may wish to try. Painting a heavy citrus oil on all bare wood surfaces around your home will detour the female carpenter bee, but these applications need to be repeated consistently once a week to maintain effectiveness.