Grow and Graze

Episode 105-Carpenter Bees.

September 26, 2022 Douglas Clement
Show Notes Transcript

Hello and welcome to the Grow and Graze Podcast. We are at episode number 105 and you are listening to the Cherokee County Cooperative Extension Office and any information that we have will be available at and today with us, we have Jim Wilcox. Good morning, Jim. Hello, Doug.

How's your day going? I'm doing fine. What about yourself? It's a beautiful day here in North Carolina. It sure is. And today we're gonna be talking about a topic that we get a lot of questions on in the spring. So we're going to get started a little early this year  in the fall to let people know about carpenter bees. Carpenter bees, and Doug know they are not bumblebees, they are not honeybees. Carpenter bees can be frustrating when they're buzzing around your home, especially in the springtime. They have this habit of excavating tunnels within the wood of your home.

They have very strong jaws and you'll see a tell-tale of round holes about a half inch in diameter, their entrance holes, usually on the underside of a piece of wood and you can kind of know where they are active because they'll leave a trace of some saw dust underneath where that hole is. They will do it on exposed wood, but even painted or treated wood can be attacked by them. Doug they don't eat the wood as food. They're just simply excavating those tunnels as a nesting site. Yeah. And we get a lot of phone calls on that. People think that they're eating the wood and you're right. All they are doing is tunneling and getting ready to lay their eggs for the young to hatch and come out in about, I think normally it takes them about five weeks. That's right. That's right. And usually in April or May you'll have them come out. Good news is  you're very unlikely to get stung by them. And in fact, the males don't even have a stinger, the females do, but they're really not likely to, to sting you unless they're cornered you, get it in your hand or something and you've really agitated them. Yeah. They are  a solitary bee, which means they do not form into colonies. So they're just  loaners basically. So they are, and that girl will, after she's got the whole dug, she'll deposit the eggs in there, and she'll make a little pollen ball, which will be food for her. The insects or the embryos, I guess. Then  she will plug that up, make another pollen ball and lay some more eggs. And that's, that's kind of the life cycle of them and they'll start to emerge in the late summer. Yeah. And, and of course they've, like you said, most people,  when they get worried about 'em is when they see them around their home and they're hovering around and, begin to make the holes in the, in their house, which, anyone should be concerned about that, correct?

That's right. And then it can even get a little compounded if the woodpeckers discover that even though the bees may not have done a ton of damage, which typically they don't, although over time, those tunnels can get longer and longer as they go back repeatedly. But a woodpecker may go in there and start tearing up the wood, looking for those embryos.

Doug. Should we talk about control a little bit? Yeah, let's talk a little bit about that. You know, a lot of people that's when they call the office, they're concerned. They want to know how to control them, how to keep them from  drilling or digging their holes into the wood, and actually that is pretty difficult to do.

There are some ways that you can do that though with insecticides such as Sevin but you don't want to spray the entire house, you just want to find those holes and treat the holes that they're, that they're going into. In about 24 or 48 hours after you treat those holes, you want to be able to, plug them up with something like aluminum foil or caulk. So you certainly don't want to just continuing spraying the entire house because that really doesn't solve the problem. Well, you're right, Doug, it doesn't because they're not eating the wood, they're just chewing it up and spitting it out.

So it is not as effective. Right. Right. And the other thing that you can do some people do is they actually will swat them with something like a racquetball racket or a tennis racket, but that's, you know, that can be time consuming, correct. It can be, but there it's somehow rewarding to give them a smack

So, those are also options. And of course there's some other options, but they're fairly expensive and it still may not solve the problem, which is, you know, replacing your wood siding was something like a composite material, like cement board siding or vinyl siding, but you know even with something like vinyl siding, if they can still find that wood behind the vinyl siding, they can still bur in the burrow in there and, and lay their eggs.

Well, you're right. You're right. I think to summarize those bees, the good news is they're pollinators. They're out there helping our environment. They're not going to sting you. And, they will leave those holes. It's part of living in the mountains a little bit. You can't prevent it, but you can control it.

Plug those holes up first, put a little bit of seven dust in there, plug 'em up and over time you may start to discourage 'em that's right. That's right. Well, and, and if anybody wants any more information on carpenter bees visit  and in the show notes, we will have links to some other information that you can read.

And we just thank everyone for being with us today. All.


NC Cooperative Extension, Cherokee County Center

NC State Extension

Cherokee County Government

Farm Credit Service (Sponsor)

Carpenter Bee Publication