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Any organic solutions to get rid of carpenter bees?

Posted by garden_frog Z5 Western NY (My Page) on
Thu, May 11, 06 at 11:48

I have a ton of carpenter bees (the big ones that look similar to bumble bees) that are devouring our shed. There are holes all over the place and sawdust and they swarm the mulch pile which is located next to the shed.

Anyone have any suggestions how to get rid of them? From what I've read, unless you get chemicals all the way down to the nest (which is supposed to be somewhere inside the wood) they will just keep coming back as the eggs emerge. But I figured I would check here to see if anyone had any suggestions.

I'd prefer an organic solution if possible.

Thanks in advance for your help!


Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Any organic solutions to get rid of carpenter bees?

Drione dust is supposed to be effective at eliminating the nest, but you have to find the entry hole first. It will most likely be on the underside of the wood somewhere.

Drione dust is basically silica and pyrethins. It is applied at the entrance on the hole and it sticks to the feet of the female as she tends to the nest resulting in the death of the entire population.

I haven't used it, just heard it is effective and since it is pyrethin based I have no doubt it will kill the bees. It kills lots of insects too, so apply it carefully to the bee hole and try to avoid getting it elsewhere best you can.

If you go this route you might want to buy a sprayer for it to blow it into the hole.

RE: Any organic solutions to get rid of carpenter bees?

I had read something about using that, but I didn't think it was an organic solution. Am I wrong? Silica is highly toxic to humans and animals, right? I'm not familiar with pyrethins.

I should probably specify that I have 3 dogs and 1 small child all of whom like to put anything and everything in their mouth...thus part of the reason I want to be very careful with what products I chose to use.

Also, if the nests are in the joists of the shed, I'm not sure how I would go about accessing them.

Somethign tells me this is not an easy problem to deal with, huh?

RE: Any organic solutions to get rid of carpenter bees?

Pyrethins are organic and safe for humans and pets, but the silica is not organic nor is it safe. It wouldn't be likely to cause problems for the kids or pets, but you as the applicator would need to be very careful to not inhale the fine dust.

It is a major lung irritant and can cause silicosis which is basically lesions in the lungs. The reason the Drione dust works is because the fine silica dust adheres to the female bee's legs as she goes about her business and spreads the pyrethins throughout the nest so the baby bees are killed by it.

Because the silica is a drying agent it remains effective even in high moisture envirnoments for a longer period of time than other dusts would.

So, it is kind of a mixed bag. The silica is what gets the pyrethins into the nest and as you noted, if the toxin doesn't get into the nest the problem doesn't go away. But, it is also not organic and is toxic to humans/pets if you/they breath it in.

They make dusters which can be used to 'blow' it into the nest as far as it will go, but ultimately you have to decide whether the risk is worth it to you.

I am generally a fan of choosing the least toxic means of *effectively* solving a problem. I certainly don't know of every method out there, but of those I know of the drione dust is the least toxic method I have confidence will work. Not non toxic, just the least toxic way I know of.

I have kids and a dog as well so I can certainly relate to your concern. A call you have to make.

RE: Any organic solutions to get rid of carpenter bees?

  • Posted by lola1 z9 Cen. CA (My Page) on
    Mon, May 22, 06 at 16:38

Hello gardenfrog. I had this problem about the same time last year in the entire length of a wood fence that surrounds our property on two sides. I completely understand your desire for a safe solution. I did a lot of research and this is what I can remember, in an effort to share:

1. The bees are particularly bad this time of year March/April - June because they are tending to their nests inside the wood.
2. They drill holes in untreated wood. The best deterent for preventing more bees from drilling (assuming you want to keep the wood edifice!) is painting the wood. Wood stain will not work, I understand.
3. The bees rarely sting. I can't remember exactly, but one sex is not capable of stinging and the other just really doesn't, unless completely cornered. However, as you have witnessed, they can do a lot of damage.

Which brings me to my next point,--- last year, the first real summer in our new (newly acquired that is) house, we discovered carpenter bees and the 100s of holes they drilled/ occupied. Very long story short, this is what we did. My fiance used an air gun that you fill with dust, and in this case, we used Sevin dust. I, on the other hand, had a caulking gun with brown latex caulk which somewhat matched the color of our unpainted wood fence. We started at one end of the fence and he blew the Sevin into the holes with the tip of the gun while I caulked the hole closed. I think we had tried to use only the dust prior to this, but it seemed that the bees were unabated.

Again, I have to say I prefer not to use anything that may be poisonous to children, animals or the environment, but this was the best way we could control the dust (by plugging it up in the holes using the caulk) and the bees which were literally flying into my head sometimes as I was trying to plant/ garden next to fence. One flew into my sister-in-law while we were eating outside one day and I thought she was going to have a heart attack.

This year, we had not treated at all, and I do believe we do not have nearly the problem as last year. I can't say, empirically, if it had anything to do with last year's treatment, weather conditions, general insect life spans, etc. All I know is that I am happy that it is not as bad.

Hope this helps and good luck. I know what it's like--- very, very annoying.

RE: Any organic solutions to get rid of carpenter bees?

I use a spray can of GUMOUT carb+choke cleaner with the straw small straw extension on the nozzle. Avoid spraying on painted surfaces.

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