How Do I Get Rid of Carpenter Bees?
Getting rid of a carpenter bee infestation can be a tough job. These bees are not the social type so there is no chance of having workers bring poison back to a central colony. Carpenter bees need to be dealt with individually. There are several methods including carpenter bee traps, closing off or destroying nests, and introducing poison dust into each bee gallery.
Carpenter bee control begins with identifying every nest or potential nest in the building exterior. Carpenter bee nest entrances are holes are perfect circles about the size of a pencil eraser. The most likely places to find a nest are just below eaves, windowsills, and awnings but any protected area is a potential nesting point (if you have cedar shingling the lips beneath the shingles are a prime nesting area). Once you’ve found the nests you can begin with a carpenter bee elimination plan. Any work that you are planning to do around the nest should be done at night when it is cool and the bees are less likely to be active.
The most effective way to handle your bee problem is to seal off the entrance of each individual nest. Remember that these bees are not social and live alone, one bee per nest. Use silicone caulk to fill the holes as completely as possible. Although the reason is unknown, the bees will not try to dig their way out. They will remain trapped in their nests until they die. This is a time intensive activity but if you get all of the nests sealed then you will have no bees next year.
If you are concerned that blocking off the entrances will cause the bees to dig deeper into the woodwork and cause more damage you may try spraying them with insecticide. Any bee killer will work, and the bees are large enough that they are easy to hit in mid-flight. Killing off larvae in nests is a simple matter of straightening out a sturdy wire and thrusting it into the nest and scrambling the eggs.
Another option is injecting poison laced dust into the bee hole and letting the bee drag it back to the larvae. This dust can be applied with a duster (available at most hardware or home improvement stores) or a DIY solution can be fashioned with a turkey baster.
After carpenter bee removal, prevention is key to keep them from coming back. Remove all of the previously infested wood that has suffered structural damage and replace it with pressure-treated wood if possible (wolmanized lumber used to be the go-to material, but today regulations limit its use considerably). Make sure the wood is painted, not stained, as the latex paint is a deterrent. Keep up on the paint job to prevent flaking and exposure of the wood to potential infestation.