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What’s all the buzz about Carpenter Bees?

Are carpenter bees dangerous?  Although the male cannot sting, he can cause concern because of his buzzing around in an aggressive nature.  This behavior is usually what causes people to ask us if carpenter bees are dangerous.

Carpenter Bees in Missouri

The name Carpenter Bee applies to several species of bees in the US that excavate tunnels in sound wood.  The only species of economic importance found in Missouri is Xylocopa virginica.  They are similar in size and appearance to bumble bees, but the top surface of the abdomen being black, almost entirely hairless and shiny.

Males have a white face, whereas the female’s face is black. Remember that face, because the female is the only one that can sting you!

Where do you find Carpenter Bees?

Carpenter bees are often seen hovering near decks, eaves and gables of homes.  The male carpenter bees patrol these areas and will fly near people.  They defend territories and may be aggressive, but they are unable to sting, so their aggression is just a show.  Female carpenter bees do not actively defend nesting sites and are usually not aggressive, but remember… females can sting if they are aggravated.

Carpenter bees are normally considered to be beneficial insects, because they pollinate a wide variety of plant species.  However, when making tunnels in your homes’ deck, eaves and other wooden structures, they are considered a pest.

Although carpenter bees attack many species of dried, seasoned wood, they seem to prefer softwoods such as pine, fir, redwood and cedar.  You may see holes appear in your porch and shed ceiling, railings, overhead trim wooden porch furniture, dead tree limbs, fence posts, wooden shingles and siding, windowsills and wooden doors. Unsightly defecation stains may be present near the openings to carpenter bees tunnels.  Preferred nesting sites are usually at least 2 inches thick.

If you suspect carpenter bees are repurposing your home as a hive, having the problem addressed quickly is crucial for preventing structural and aesthetic damage.

Call Holper’s Pest & Animal Solutions today at (314) 544-7378 to schedule a free inspection. If bees are present, we’ll perform carpenter bee removal quickly and comprehensively.

 

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Are Carpenter Bees Dangerous? And Where Do Carpenter Bees Live?

This time of the year in St. Louis we start hearing a lot about carpenter bees. Recently we have been asked a couple of questions that we are happy to help with: “Are carpenter bees dangerous?” and “Where do carpenter bees live? Both are good questions and Holper’s Pest & Animal Solutions is happy to help with the answers.

Are Carpenter Bees Dangerous? 

In the sense of danger as risk of being stung, the likelihood of being stung by one is actually very small. Only the females can sting, yet it is usually the stinger-less males that are seen hovering about. The males cannot cause you harm in that manner. Females are generally found in their burrows (more on that with second question), so unless you are handling them or sticking a finger in the burrow (NOT recommended!) you run no to little danger of being stung by a carpenter bee. That being said, all bee stings are dangerous to a person with severe allergies! Avoiding the area to keep from inadvertently touching a female carpenter bee is critical with a severe allergy to bee venom.

In the sense of danger as risk to your home’s appearance and structure, the answer is a resounding yes! Carpenter bees are dangerous to the well being of your house by virtue of their burrows in soft wood areas of your home. These burrows compromise the structure, as well as the appearance of your home. These burrows also help explain the answer to the second question of where carpenter bees live?

Where Do Carpenter Bees Live? 

The hallmark of the carpenter bee burrow is a perfectly round hole in soft, unpainted wood that is ⅜ inch to ½ inch in diameter. This is where the bees seek shelter, as well as where the females lay their eggs and raise their young. Common places to find these burrows are deck railings, roof eaves, doors, shingles, and even wooden furniture. Digging through the soft wood to created these burrows is what compromises the integrity of your structure, as well as marring the appearance of the wood. Of note: the bees do not actually ingest the wood, they merely dig through it, leaving telltale piles of sawdust in their wake.

I Think I Have Carpenter Bees. Now What?

Specifics of how to treat for carpenter bees can be found in our blog, How to Get Rid of Carpenter Bees. But to get exterminations started right away, or for your yearly retreatment to keep them away, one call to Holper’s at 314-732-1413 will get you on your way to saying goodbye to carpenter bees and their destructive habits!

 

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Are Carpenter Bees Turning Your Home in to Swiss Cheese?

When we think of bees, we usually envision honey bees pollinating flowers and nesting in natural sites, such as tree cavities, or inhabiting hives made expressly for bee colonies. However, for homeowners, not all bees lead such a charmed existence. Carpenter bees (a.k.a. wood bores) often destroy structural wood to create nests instead of searching for existing sites that are perfect colonize — and the insects don’t offer the silver lining of making honey.

How Carpenter Bees are Detected

Carpenter bees are separated into two genera: Xylocopa, which are large carpenter bees that look similar to bumblebees, but lack visible hairs on the abdomen that are present in the latter; and Ceratina, which are considerably smaller (less than 8 mm long), and have a relatively hairless, glossy exoskeleton that ranges in color from black, to greenish black, to metallic blue, to purplish blue. So, one of the ways carpenter bees are detected is by appearance alone.

bee-controlHowever, because carpenter bees spend lots of time in their colonies, they can be difficult for homeowners to see. But one thing about carpenter bees that’s easy to see is the holes they bore in wood. The holes often appear perfectly round and may be surrounded by an accretion of pollen and bee excrement, but severe damage just under the wood surface can eventually cause segments of the tunnels to become visible on the exterior. Common sites on a home where carpenter bee holes appear include:

  • Doors
  • Window Sills
  • Roof eaves
  • Railings
  • Decks

A third way carpenter bees are detected is through the appearance of wood dust just below holes the bees use to enter the nest. An experienced provider of carpenter bee removal will look for all three of these signs to determine whether the bees are present and, if they are, the extent of the infestation. If your home is infested, a good exterminator acts quickly to minimize structural damage and keep the wood of the residence from becoming proverbial swiss cheese.

How Carpenter Bees are Removed

Carpenter bee removal is generally performed by applying a powder-based or aqueous-based insecticide to holes that lead to the nest. As the bees enter and leave the hive, they contact the insecticide and die shortly thereafter. So, the actual extermination process is rather simple when the right insecticide is used.

However, after the bees are dead, a thorough exterminator recommends patching the holes to prevent opportunistic reinfestation. The exterminator may also recommend painting exterior wood surfaces with exterior paint or a polyurethane finish, which are unpalatable to the insects. Once the bees are gone and these measures are taken, your residence is highly secure against carpenter bees.

Need Carpenter Bee Removal?

If you suspect carpenter bees are repurposing your home as a hive, having the problem addressed quickly is crucial for preventing structural and aesthetic damage. If you notice signs of carpenter bees around your residence, call Holper’s Pest & Animal Solutions today at (314) 732-1413, or email us at info@holperspest.com, to schedule a free inspection. If bees are present, we’ll perform carpenter bee removal quickly and comprehensively.