Carpenter Bee

Actual Size: ½ ” –  1”

Characteristics: Large, black and yellow; shiny hairless abdomen

Legs: 6

Antennae: Yes

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

Habits:

  • Do not eat wood, but cause damage by boring into decaying or weathered wood
  • Male carpenter bees lack a stinger, but are very aggressive
  • Bees prefer to attack soft unfinished wood that is greater than two inches thick

Carpenter Bees in El Paso TX and Anthony NM

Carpenter bees may help pollinate trees and flowers, but they can be a nuisance due to their wood-boring habits. Carpenter bees get their name from their habit of boring into wood, creating chambers to raise their young. Contrary to popular opinion, carpenter bees do not actually eat wood. Carpenter bees can be found across the southern United States from Arizona to Florida and in the eastern United States, north to New York. Here in the El Paso area, they target timber that is dry or weathered. They often emerge in the springtime and can be active throughout the summer.

Carpenter Bee Nests

Unlike many bees, carpenter bees are not social insects and create individual nests in trees, eaves, or sides of structures. Males and females overwinter in old nest tunnels and emerge in the spring to mate. The mated female selects a suitable piece of wood for nest construction while the male spends most of their time hovering near nest sites. The female excavates a gallery using her mandibles, furnishes her nest with “bee bread” (a mixture of pollen and regurgitated nectar), deposits an egg, and closes the cell with chewed wood pulp. A carpenter bee infestation is usually detected by observing a large amount of sawdust and pollen on the ground below the area being chewed and excavated. Another sign a nest is nearby is seeing yellow/brown stains on the wood below entry points.

Carpenter Bee Habits & 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. While the damage to wood from the excavation of individual carpenter bees may be slight, the activities of numerous bees over many years can result in considerable destruction.

If you notice destruction caused by a carpenter bee, quickly contact your local bee control company.