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  • Tom Watson

How to Identify and Control Carpenter Bees

With spring around the corner, New Jersey residents will soon be seeing the emergence of all kinds of insects. This post discusses carpenter bees as springtime is the best time to deal with carpenter bees – before they mate and start drilling.

Similar to carpenter ants, carpenter bees bore into wood to make nests. They emerge in spring from spending the winter in old nest tunnels. Carpenter bees can be mistaken as bumblebees since they are large, with yellow and black fuzz. However, you can tell the difference between carpenter bees and bumblebees by:


  • Carpenter bees have a bare, shiny, black abdomen. Measure about 1 inch.

  • Bumblebees are fuzzy – the head and body. Measure from ¾ inch to 1 ½ inches.


  • Carpenter bees hover around wood siding, eaves, decks or fences.

  • Bumblebees hang out around flowers.


  • Carpenter bees are solitary and do not form colonies.

  • Bumblebees are social and live in colonies containing 40-500 bees.


  • Female carpenter bees will sting if the nest is threatened. Males do not have stingers.

  • Female bumblebees will defend the nest and can sting repeatedly, and not lose her stinger. Males do not have stingers.


  • Carpenter bees make their nests in wood. They like wood this is soft, bare, weathered and unpainted.

  • Bumblebees make their nests in the ground in leaf or wood piles, or vacant rodent holes.

Some people think that carpenter bees get a bad rap as they pollinate flowers and feed birds. Other people think they do more harm than good. The holes they drill contribute to water seepage and wood rot. Note that once the choose your home as theirs, they tend to stay for years; returning to the same location to further excavate existing tunnels and build new ones.

Woodpeckers are known to peck on the wood exterior of homes in order to get at carpenter bee larvae. Their strong bills, designed for drilling and drumming on trees, and a long sticky tongue make the side of your home a target for some tasty food. This can result in serious damage to your home – worse than the tunnels created by the bees.

How to Tell If You Have a Carpenter Bee Problem

Start by looking outside your home in early spring. You may see some hovering around the eaves of your home or decking. Signs of an infestation are ½ inch round holes in wood, piles of sawdust under the holes and yellow stains on surfaces near the hole.

Bee Photo: By Daniel Schwen - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Woodpecker Photo: By Tina Nord from Pexels


If you have any questions or want to schedule a free consultation, do not hesitate to give me, Tom, a call or send an email.

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