Monday, March 12, 2012

Carpenter Bees Will Be Active Soon

 I'd never heard of carpenter bees until we moved here, and even then it took a while to find out what was drilling symmetrical holes in our front porch ceiling, and on the back deck, and leaving piles of sawdust. I soon came to learn how pervasive and destructive they are.

When Roger does exterior estimates he often finds significant damage from carpenter bees, and repairing the holes is an important part of his work prior to painting or staining. Unfinished wood, or wood with a deteriorated finish, are the most susceptible to carpenter bee damage, and at our house we were happy to find that the bees were less inclined to nest in wood that Roger had recently stained or painted.

carpenter bee
There are hundreds of species of carpenter bees around the world, with the most common in our area being the Xylocopa virginica. Carpenter bees aren't all bad. They're important pollinators, particularly now with colony collapse disorder killing millions of the bumble bees we count on for our food supply. Although they look similar at a glance, the carpenter bee is the larger of the two and has a shiny, black metallic abdomen, while the bumblee bee has yellow and black hair on all body parts.

A carpenter bee hole is easy to identify, but then what? The important thing to know is that a female bee is inside building nests, and you need to do something before her family gets larger.

Carpenter Bee Hole
The Bee's Nest Inside the Wood

It's not enough to fill the hole and hope for the best. Carpenter bees come back year after year, and if an old nest is occupied, females will drill new ones and things can quickly get out of hand. 

I don't like to indiscriminately spray poisons all around our home, so I consulted the North Carolina State University web site for the Department of Entomology to see what they suggested.

Unfortunately, these experts aren't encouraging about our ability to prevent carpet bee damage, but they do have some ideas about how to control it.

If carpenter bees have struck at your house, Roger can work wonders to repair the damage to stained or painted wood. Call me for an estimate at 828-692-4355.

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