Carpenter Bee

Actual Size: ½ ” –  1”

Characteristics: Large, black and yellow; shiny hairless abdomen

Legs: 6

Antennae: Yes

Habitat: These bees do not live in nests. Instead, females bore holes through soft wood to lay eggs in.

Habits:

  • Female carpenter bees do possess a stinger but seldom use it unless they are handled or provoked
  • Can be a real nuisance to homeowners because they tunnel into decks, porches, and other wood structures
  • Do not eat wood, but cause damage by boring into decaying or weathered wood

Carpenter Bees in Central Florida

Although carpenter bees are commonly found in and around wood, the insects do not actually eat the timber. Instead, they are known to burrow within the wood to lay eggs. Like most bee species, carpenter bees forage on flowering plants, feeding on nectar. The females collecting pollen for their offspring. In contrast to the social tendencies of bumblebees and honey bees, carpenter bees lead solitary lives, as each female individually mates with a male to produce offspring. Mating takes place during the spring, and females then set to work cleaning out and enlarging tunnels left by earlier generations or excavate new ones in exposed, dry wood.

Carpenter Bee Nests & Habitat

These bees do not live in nests or colonies. Adult carpenter bees overwinter in abandoned nest tunnels where they have stored limited pollen to survive the colder temperatures. The bees that survive the winter will emerge in the spring to feed on nectar, mate, and build galleries. They may reuse an already existing gallery or they may excavate new galleries. Carpenter bee nests can often be found in decks, eaves, fascia boards, doors, railings, window trim, and other wooden surfaces. They prefer the wood from redwood, cedar, pine, and cypress trees and target wood that is unpainted, untreated, and weathered. However, they occasionally target painted and primed wood as well.

The tunnels they excavate into wooden surfaces are only for nurturing their eggs and young. Nests usually consist of tunnels half of an inch in diameter and 6-10″ deep and may include several brood chambers. Carpenter bees may buzz like saws when constructing nests (hence their name), but they do not eat the wood. This is because they cannot digest the cellulose.

Carpenter Bee Behaviors & Dangers

Female carpenter bees are rarely aggressive but will sting if provoked. If a person is stung by a carpenter bee and is allergic to bee venom, they should seek immediate medical attention.  Male carpenter bees do not possess a stinger, but can be extremely defensive when protecting and defending their nest. Although carpenter bees can be helpful pollinators, they can cause significant damage to structures. Windowsills, wooden siding, decks, railings, outdoor furniture, and fences can be attacked. It is rare for carpenter bees to cause extensive structural damage, but it can happen with a huge infestation that is not controlled early. In the case of an unmanageable carpenter bee problem, contact a professional bee control company.