When it comes to finding a way to stop carpenter bees from attacking the wood buildings around our farm, we have somewhat become experts by default.
With nearly every structure at Old World Garden Farms built from wood, carpenter bees have always been a huge concern.
We learned that quickly some 8 years ago, when we built our first barn. Within 2 weeks of the framework going up, they had already begun to drill perfect holes in many of the rafters.
And knowing we would soon be siding the entire barn in wood, it scared us to death!
What Is A Carpenter Bee?
Carpenter bees look much like bumblebees, but without any hair on their stomachs.
Unlike bumblebees, which live in nests and colonies in the ground, carpenter bees shelter by themselves, and rear their young in holes drilled into the wood.
Much like with honeybee hives, it is the female carpenter bee that does the majority of the work. Including drilling out the holes for their nest.
The tell-tale sign of carpenter bees being present is a bit of sawdust on the ground, and a perfectly drilled hole nearby.
In fact, it is actually quite amazing just how perfect their wood drilling can be. It is a shame I can’t harness their power. I could literally throw away all of my 1/2 to 3/4″ drill bits!
But contrary to popular belief, carpenter bees are not “eating” the wood. Instead, they are creating shelter and a place to lay their larva.
Carpenter bees often return and use the same wood and space each season. And if left unchecked, they can hurt not only the appearance of a structure, but it’s safety.
So how do you stop carpenter bees?
Well, for us, ever since we first noticed their damage in our barn 8 years back, we employed a few natural techniques that have worked wonders to stop carpenter bees in their tracks.
And best of all, with near 100% effectiveness! So we though we would share four of those top tips with today’s article.
4 Ways To Stop Carpenter Bees Naturally
#1 Staining / Painting
Carpenter bees prefer untreated and unstained wood. So the first line of defense is to never leave wood untreated.
If you want to keep wood in it’s natural state, at the very least, apply a high quality clear sealer to help seal the wood.
For us, paint has helped slow them, but it is the stain that has completely stopped their damage.
Our house, garage, barn, pavilion and pergola are all stained with Thompson’s semi-transparent or solid stain. In addition, we used two other brands of stains on the cabin this spring as well.
And as amazing as it sounds, not one of those structures has a single hole drilled into it from a carpenter bee!
In areas where we have used paint, there have been a few cases of holes. But they have been few and far between.
It is certainly enough for us to always make sure our wood is covered in some way!
It is one of the reasons we quickly stained all of our DIY Adirondack Chairs around the farm. And yes, they have stayed completely free of damage as well.
#2 Noise, Vibration, And A Little Music
As crazy as it sounds, music, vibration, or any type of noise works wonders to keep carpenter bees from drilling as well.
Before we had a chance to stain the cabin this spring, we noticed a few holes drilled into the bare wood in the front porch ceiling.
Until we could get to it, a bit of music from a radio and a few chimes worked well to stop the carpenter bees from causing any further damage.
And now that it is stained, problem solved!
#3 Citrus Oil
When you do find the first signs of a hole, citrus oil sprayed into the hole will help keep the bees from nesting. Product Link : Citrus Oil Concentrate
Much like with all insects, carpenter bees hate the smell of citrus oil. It serves as a perfect natural repellent!
#4 Fill The Holes!
Last but not least, when you do find damage, repair the holes with wood putty / wood filler quickly.
Since it will be used on wood outside, be sure to use an exterior wood filler that will hold up to the elements.
Clean out any larva, and fill holes immediately to keep the young from hatching and becoming next year’s problem.
Patching also keeps the bees from coming back in subsequent years.
Here is to stopping carpenter bees in their tracks! Jim and Mary
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