Carpenter Bees

As the MSU Apiculture Laboratory, we are frequently asked how to deal with a variety of bee or wasp problems not related to honey bees.  Of these, Carpenter Bees rank high on the list by those simply wanting to protect the wood of their house, porch, deck or barn from being damaged.  I usually send the client a Bugwise article about Carpenter Bees that was written by Dr. Blake Layton within our Department of Entomology.  A PDF copy of this newsletter (labeled “Carpenter Bees”) can be found under our Resources heading.

I am adding the following link for how to build a Carpenter Bee trap to the possible resources one should consider in battling these nuisance bees (http://www.wikihow.com/Build-a-Carpenter-Bee-Trap).  I offer my father’s personal anecdotal use of these traps as evidence that they can at least sometimes help alleviate problems caused by these bees.  My parents have a wooden deck that has been routinely bored into by Carpenter Bees during the last 20 years.  Dad has tried everything from heavy coats of paint to hide the wood grain texture to the use of insecticide dusts and plugs.  Nothing has really abated the problem until he tried trapping the bees this spring.

He constructed a trap identical to the one described at the link above.  He placed it near a portion of the deck that has had the highest numbers of burrows from past seasons, and he feels that timing of hanging the trap is probably important.  He hung it in early March, which is the time that he normally sees female bees looking to construct the first burrows in the spring in central Alabama where he lives.  After just a couple of days he examined the first trap and counted 54 female Carpenter Bees.  He was so excited about the effectiveness, that he built several more traps and used them to trap tens more of the bees.  He told me that he has had no active burrows this year since that initial trapping episode, and he always leaves traps in place as a way to survey for activity.  In many areas of the southern U.S., Carpenter Bees burrow into structures with two waives of infestation – one in the spring and one in mid- to late summer.  He waits to see whether the traps will continue to protect the deck and porch.

Jeff Harris