What Kind Of Bee Is That?!



You may have noticed some large dark colored bees hovering around outside your home or in your yard. Many people automatically think that these are Bumble Bees. They may in fact be Carpenter Bees and many people confuse the two. While Bumble Bees generally make their nest in the ground, a Carpenter Bee makes their nest by burrowing into wood. The holes that they make are perfectly round and about the same diameter as a finger. They will lay their eggs in the tunnels they create in the wood and they will also overwinter in those tunnels. 

Carpenter+Bee+-vs-+Bumble+Bee.jpgCarpenter+Bee+-vs-+Bumble+Bee Bumble bees have some yellow on the body – Carpenter bees are black.

Both bees look very similar. They are both large but the Carpenter Bee has a bare, shiny body, while a bumble bee has a hairy body that has at least some yellow on it. Male Carpenter Bees may seem very aggressive. They will hover in front of people that are near their nest. But it’s really all for show. The males are harmless as they have no stingers. The females can sting but usually won’t unless they are handled or directly threatened. Both male and female Bumble Bees can and will sting. They are not normally aggressive but will defend their nest. Be aware that their stingers do not have barbs, so they can sting over and over without causing any harm to themselves.


Carpenter Bees prefer to attack softer woods that are untreated and weathered. These include redwood, cedar, cypress and pine. They are more likely to steer clear of wood that is painted or pressure treated. Some of the common areas to find Carpenter Bee damage is in eaves, trim, siding, decks, etc. You can help yourself by painting vulnerable wood. Stain is not as reliable a deterrent as paint, but it will offer some protection. 

You may find wood shavings near the spot where a Carpenter Bee is tunneling or you may even hear burrowing noises. The female Carpenter Bees may reuse old holes to lay their eggs and do not always dig new ones. You can repair the holes with wood that is then covered in carpenter’s glue or wood putty. It is important that after you get rid of the bees, you repair the holes to discourage them from being used again. 

Carpenter+Bees.jpgCarpenter+Bees Left Side – Carpenter bee larva inside the wood tunnels. Right Side – Carpenter bee in the hole it drilled.


If you discover that you already have Carpenter Bees before you are able to paint the vulnerable wood, there are treatments that can be done. Some may choose a liquid spray to treat the wood, but this generally will only last 1 – 2 weeks and have to be continuously redone. If the bees have already burrowed in, you can treat the individual holes with a dust. Even though Carpenter Bees are not normally aggressive it is highly recommended that you perform the treatment at night when the bees are less active. Be sure to wear protective clothing if you will be doing treatment during the day. If you’re feeling brave you may want to attempt this yourself, in which case Rapid has a retail section where you can purchase the proper products. If not, Rapid Pest Solutions can perform the service for you. Contact us for a quote.