Please help! Carpender Bees

TexasCoon(z9 SWLA)April 25, 2005

Carpender bees are eating my new porch down! Does anyone know what I can do about them? They're driving me nuts!

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lola1(z9 Cen. CA)

Okay, I am going to apologize to everyone in advance because I realize I should not hurt bees, but the damage is just too great. About 2 weeks ago I noticed dozens of 1/4" holes in the wood fence that is on two of the three sides of our backyard. The next day I saw a bee fly into one of the holes, and I promptly researched it, finding out it was a carpenter bee! I know bees are good for a variety of reasons and purposes, but these bees are literally destroying our fence--- and preventing me from gardening anywhere near it.

My fiance sprayed Sevin in each of the holes, and admittedly, the bees are becoming less of a problem. I feel guilty but I couldn't find a better way to rid them of our fence. On the internet I read that they tend not to bother treated, painted or stained wood. I'm not sure if this applies to your porch.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2005 at 2:09PM
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dmullen(Southern CA)

They ate into my redwood deck. I did not know what they were when I saw them. Thought they were bumblebees. Had the house termited and the termite man told me what they are and what they do. Tenting the house killed them.

There is info available on the net with a google search. A while back, I read that you need to inject some kind of a powder into those holes and that will kill them.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2005 at 5:08PM
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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

Carpenter bees burrow into unpainted wood. So the fix is relatively simple.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2005 at 8:02PM
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dmullen(Southern CA)

My deck is stained and they went right at it. Left a lot of holes and after tenting the house, found 20-30 dead ones under the deck.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2005 at 10:04PM
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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

Not stained. But painted. It's different.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2005 at 1:48AM
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TexasCoon(z9 SWLA)

Thank you everyone for your help. I don't really want my porch painted so I'm going to try the Sevin. I hate to have to kill them. They are not agressive and don't bother me much, but I love my new porch!

    Bookmark   April 26, 2005 at 7:30PM
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Carpenter bee control can be quite difficult. The Male Carpenter bee is quite easy to kill. You can spray them with any Bee and hornet spray. But unfortunately, killing the male bee will do nothing to stop the Carpenter bee cycle. And if you have a lot of females boring holes and hanging around looking for a place to bore, You must treat the nest with the proper material, You need an insecticide, which will have a long residual effect. If you spray bee and wasp spray in the hole, you may kill the female. However the eggs are protected, and in six months or more new larva will emerge. I would recommend dusting each hole with a pesticide dust labeled such as EcoExempt D, after you apply the dust in the hole you should then fill it with a 1/2-inch cork or plug.

Here is a link that might be useful: EcoExempt

    Bookmark   April 26, 2005 at 11:18PM
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lola1(z9 Cen. CA)

Wow, --- thanks for the info, too. I knew that spraying the holes doesn't do any preventative treatment against drilling more holes, but I hadn't thought about the Sevin not penetrating the larvae. I did consider filling the holes with wood filler! However, this is an old grape wood fence and I'll have to ponder this a little further. I wish our neighbor would go 'halves' on replacing it with a masonry fence, but he doesn't want to, and we can't afford footing the whole bill right now, with all the other projcts going on.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2005 at 2:22PM
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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

Checking on the link for EcoExempt, it appears that the product is for commercial use. Not available to home owners.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2005 at 12:50PM
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I can't see where an insectacide would be of much help as a way of preventing damage. I mean carpenter bees chew through treated wood no problems and come back for more! So how can an insectacide be of much help?
I do any spraying overnight as thats when the bees would be in the holes. This last is guessing on my part I admit.
My house's exterior is treated, stained 1x s.


    Bookmark   April 30, 2005 at 6:51PM
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I had never realized that Carpenter Bees were a problem until I read this post. So I did a Google search and found more info that had other possible ways to plug up the holes. :) Good luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: Info on Carpenter Bees from Ohio State University

    Bookmark   May 7, 2005 at 9:50PM
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syllogod(7 TX)

you can try mixing the sevin dust or any dry powder bee insecticide with wood filler before you patch the hole. I had my battle with carpenter bees several years ago after buying my home. The barn was infested and there were at least 100 holes. You can hear the larvae in the early spring at night, knawing through the wood. it sounds just like something is on the inside trying to get out. they will just eat right through a cork plug. Try adding the dust and it minimizes general exposure putting the poison only on the path of the bee you are trying to kill and not other isect activity in your yard.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2005 at 1:14AM
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lola1(z9 Cen. CA)

An update on the carpenter bee situation. . . Last weekend, my fiance and I decided we HAD to do something. He bought a powder-shooting mechanism thing and I got the Bug B Gone powder containing pyrethrim (sp?) and brown caulk. The aforementioned pesticide is one mentioned on the Ohio State info-- thanks BTW. He 'puffed' powder into the holes, I quickly caulked them shut. Quite a few times bees came flying out of them, and of course, I looked like an idiot running around the yard, convinced they were coming right for me, despite knowing they really don't sting, but whatever. !!! What was amazing was the number of times he would shoot powder into a hole and it would come out another one! We must have 100+ holes in the fence. Plus, what's hard is without going over into the neighbor's yard and getting them from the other side, they continue to bore. Yes, it's eery how I can hear them chewing--- constantly and all times of the day.

We've found a few dead ones and think that we see less. (Maybe we're convincing ourselves we see less.) I think if we're able to get our neighbors to allow us to do the same on their side of the fence, we're going to try the Sevin powder (which I also bought) and see if that'll work better. I think it boils down to having to treat ALL or nearly all the holes.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2005 at 2:23PM
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johnpeter(10b LongBeachCA)

I don't know anything about this...but I can't help but wonder... Why don't you get together with your neighbor, and get an exterminator to put an impervious tarp over your fence? Then the exterminator can fumigate the wood. This won't prevent recurring infestation, but it will knock the population to zero. Kills termites, too.

I've been googling "carpenter bee" and I'm not sure what these things are. I've lived in So. California for some 50 years, and have seen plenty of big black bees buzzing in the hills and in the wood shake roofs. We called them "black jackets" as a kid, and we kids all just seemed to believe that, whereas a honeybee might sting once, a black jacket could sting six times. I don't know where this information came from.
The description I've read of "carpenter bee" shows some yellow on the insect, and they're supposedly up to an inch long. I've been looking at "black jackets" for decades that are well over an inch long, and are pitch black all over. They are scary buggers, and love holes in wood. Back when my garage was wooden, there was a hole in the frame for the locking mechanism. This was an attraction! I would swing at them with a short flat board (30" long), and they made one hell of a crack when I'd hit one. I could knock them 25 feet.
So how big are your carpenter bees? Are they black all over?

    Bookmark   May 28, 2005 at 7:10AM
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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

Fumigating a fence is going a tad overboard as management for carpenter bees.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2005 at 11:19PM
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lola1(z9 Cen. CA)

Well, Johnpeter, I appreciate the advice but I have to agree with Jean on this one, in that I think spraying or fumigating the whole fence is something I prefer not to do. My problem is that I truly am torn between using commercial pesticides. . .and not. I used to be more strict when I was younger but as time goes on, it seems that I'm softening but I can't spray the whole thing. Too many birds and cats and I'm sure other animals walk along the fence and I really don't want to hurt them.

In fact, I really don't even want to hurt the bees. I just wish they would go find some other place (like a vacant barn) to fly around and have their families. I'm being funny but I really mean it!

The bees are about an inch or so long and they look all black to me. I know various info says they have a little yellow, but if it's there, it's tiny. Some are HUGE. They have to be .75" in diameter and at least 1.25" long.

As an update, I was astonished over what I discovered this past weekend regarding one particular hole,--- to which I refer to as "bee central." Bee central is a hole that probably has the most activity of the 99+ others. It's in a 4' post, just 2 feet from our fountain that sits against the fence. When we poofed powder last weekend and I followed up w/ caulk, I made sure this baby had a good seal with plenty of caulk.

Well, I can tell you it's caulk-free and once again, bees are going in-and-out like crazy. In fact, I think I even noticed a tiny little neon light inside that said "Come on in---we're open."

I have to maintain a sense of humor, otherwise I'll just explode.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2005 at 12:44PM
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dmullen(Southern CA)

My house was tented about a year and a half ago and it killed the carpenter bees in my deck. Found 25-30 dead ones when they removed the tent.

Today, they are back. Same deck but they are boring different holes. Will now try some of the recommendations shown above. I will use any chemical that will do them in.


    Bookmark   June 6, 2005 at 11:41PM
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lola1(z9 Cen. CA)

Dmullen - what a bummer. You'd think that would do the trick. . . at least for more than a year or so. Heck, I just had my annual termite inspection last week, and luckily after having been treated for subterranien, there's no signs, thank God. But these carpenter bees are relentless. I can't tell you how many new holes we've already found.

If you decide to shoot powder in the holes, I think I would recommend the Sevin 5% over the Bug B Gone. There's probably no difference but I thought the Sevin worked a tad better.

I have also resorted to buying a cheap butterfly net from WM. When I see them buzzing around the fence, trying to find their hole, I swing the net, quickly slap it to the ground and step on the bee.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2005 at 12:10PM
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dtgardengirl(5b Indpls)

I had a problem with this a few years back and my solution was to mix Vasoline with chili pepper, black pepper and any other "hot/dry" items in the spice selection. I "spackled" the hole. My problem was the soffit under the eaves of a screened porch - cedar. I think they love horizontal cedar. The Vasoline was so the gunk would remain until they left and the hot stuff was to deter them. I don't know if the Vasoline harmed them. This was an effective and not unattractive solution - my gunk matched my wood. They year before, I sprayed up there and it dripped onto underlying plants and killed them. I guess the key is just to send them on their way. My method is not practical for large areas, but worked fine around a small screened porch. It seemed a less toxic alternative at the time and was effective. I hope the Vasoline didn't harm them and the hot stuff just repelled them. Any thoughts on this?

    Bookmark   June 20, 2005 at 7:14PM
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All you need is NERVES OF STEEL... lol

Those things can be pretty scary sounding but seldom actually sting-(male can't) here's an article that will take you through it.

Here is a link that might be useful: Carpenter bees

    Bookmark   April 10, 2010 at 9:25PM
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