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Carpeneter bees are a common black bee that lay their eggs inside of wood tunnels that they excavate with their chewing mouthparts. While their burrowing generally does not pose any significant damage to wood, if left unattended for an extended period, significant structural damage can be dealt to support beams, decks, roofing and other wood in the home.

 

Identification

 

Carpenter bees are easily confused with the Bumble bee. Carpenter bees are mostly all black ranging in size from 12-25mm and  covered in a fine yellow or white pubescence. They can be distinguished from Bumble bees because their abdomen is a shiny black rather than in the Bumble bee covered by furry coarse hairs. Males do not have a stinger but if disturbed will attempt to frighten an intruder with aggressive flight patterns and painful bites. The female will only use a stinger when provoked.

 

Behaviour

 

Carpenter bees are important pollinators though have been known to rob nectar from plants by using their mandibles to slit open the side of the plant and lap up nectar from outside the plant and thereby not performing any cross pollination.

 

Carpenter bees burrow into any type of wood and create a series of galleries in order to establish their nest. Their galleries normally have a single entrance holes that are perfectly circular with a diameter of approximately 16mm. These entrance holes are found most commonly on the underside of a deck beam, bench or tree limb. These bees cannot acctually metabolize wood, which means a fibrous frass with irregular grit between 1-3mm consisting only of wood, not mixed with concrete, can  normally be seen scattered beneath the exit hole where these bees are active. The sound of carpenter bee gnawing is audible when they are active inside a household, this sound can be a good early identifier that you may have a carpenter bee infestation on your hands.

 

Mating occurs immediately after entering the adult stage. Males attract mates either by using their advanced ocular system and pursuing the female until copulation is achieved, or by emitting powerful pheromones that attract females for mating.

 

Females will come and go from the nest forraging for pollen and nectar to nourish their young, while males will normally stick close to the nest to guard it. Male carpenter bees are incapable of stinging, but will nevertheless divebomb, and potentially land painful bites on a threatening intruder.

 

Sociality

 

Although carpenter bees do not demonstrate typical social behaviour with a queen, a division of labour and a caste system, they do practice some forms of communal behaviour, sharing tunnel galleries excavated in wood, and sharing adjacent or nearby nest sites. When many bees are active within a single wood structure, the gallery systems and therefore the structural damage to the wooden substate is accordingly much more extensive.

 

Management

 

Because of the potential damage that carpenter bees can inflict on homes, garages and decks it can be important to control a carpenter bee population in the early stages of an infestation. Once the exit holes have been located and identified as belonging to a carpenter bee population it is important to eliminate the bees that are using this gallery and sufficiently plug he exit holes to prevent subsequent populations from making use of these nesting sites. Simply plugging up the holes is often not enough, because of their powerful chewing mouthparts, these bees can gnaw through just about any foam or wood material, and can adeptly burrow a new exit hole if one is successfully plugged.

 

Because of the risk of stinging or swarming, we advise customers to allow our expert technicians to address a carpenter bee infestation in their home. By wearing the proper protective equipment and using a combination of chemical and physical methods, including a silica dust formulation and a residual pyrethroid spray, Addison guarantees the eliminationg of a carpenter bee infestation quickly and completely.

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