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Carpenter Bees

Carpenter bees are insects from the apidae family. They are called carpenter bees because of their connection to wood; they hollow out tunnels in wood to build their nests. Itís a common misconception that these bees eat wood, however they only dig through the wood using their mandibles (mouth parts) making tunnels. As adults carpenter bees eat plant nectar, this makes them an important pollinator. At the end of summer these bees can be seen preparing to overwinter in an old nest. This process includes storing pollen for food over the winter. After a large number of bees have been repeatedly using the same nest the bees activity can become damaging to the wood. Another way that a carpenter bee nest is damaging is the fact that woodpeckers are attracted to the larvae and will damage the wood in their search for them. Generally carpenter bees are not social insects yet several may use the same nest. As more insects use the same nest discoloration may become visible near the opening. This is because carpenter bees defecate at the opening of the nest before entering. Around a nesting site if you encounter an aggressive bee it is a male and there is no need to worry. Male carpenter bees have an aggressive attitude and may hover menacingly around passersby yet they are harmless because they do not have stingers. Female carpenter bees do have stingers, though they are not aggressive. They will only sting when they feel threatened or aggravated, usually by physical contact.

Physical Characteristics
Plainly, carpenter bees can be described as large, black and yellow flying insects. They can easily be confused with bumblebees that look very similar except their abdomens. A bumblebee has hairs covering their abdomen giving them a fuzzy look while carpenter bees have shiny black abdomens. The rest of a carpenter bee is black with primarily yellow hairs on the thorax which can also look orange or white in colour. A full grown carpenter bee can measure between nineteen and twenty-five millimeters in length and have large round bodies. There are some visible differences between a male and female carpenter bee. Male carpenter bees have white markings on their faces and do not have stingers while a female carpenter bee does have a stinger but no white on her face.

Carpenter bees make their nests out of tunnels they dig into wood. Carpenter bees prefer raw, untreated wood for making their nests in. Nail holes or new cuts in wood can attract these bees. Staining wood will help deter bees, as well as painted wood which seems to be a better deterrent. However neither of these methods will prevent carpenter bees from nesting in wood. A nest starts with an entrance hole, usually underneath the wood, measuring around twelve millimeters in diameter. This first tunnel will continue for twenty five millimeters before turning at a ninety degree angle horizontally to follow the grain of the wood. Inside bees will dig out tunnels called galleries where the eggs will develop into bees. There can be several galleries inside a nest measuring from sixteen to sixty centimeters or even longer depending on the number of bees using a nest and how many times a nest has been used. More bees and repeated uses of a nest can create very deep tunnels which could lead to serious structural damage. Carpenter bees can be found active around homes and wooden structures. Common nesting sites include porches, garages, decks, railings and overhanging roofs.

Life Cycle
Carpenter bees emerge from overwintering in April and May with males emerging first, and will start making nests about two weeks later. They will mate between April and June, and then the females will lay their eggs. Carpenter bees have some of the largest eggs relative to the femaleís size among insects. After mating the female will go to her nest where the following process takes place: The female builds up pollen balls also called bee bread, a mixture of pollen and nectar. This will serve as food for the larvae when they hatch. Next the she will lay her egg near the pollen and seal of that section of the tunnel with partition, a chewed up wood pulp. There will usually be six or seven of these cells in a gallery. The adults will die within a few weeks of finishing all the cells. The eggs will hatch in a few days and become fully developed after approximately 36 days; late in the summer (August) adult carpenter bees will emerge from the nest. Soon after they can be seen preparing a place to overwinter, they will not dig new tunnels until the following summer.

Pest Services And Control A Technician will come out to your house to do an inspection. Carpenter Bees are controlled using sprays or dust depending on the situation. There is no preparation required on the part of the homeowner. If you have any questions please call your local 24 hour number or 1-888-390-7378. We would be happy to help.

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