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How To Stop Carpenter Bees Naturally – 5 Simple Methods That Work!

Spring has arrived, and so have the carpenter bees – and stopping them from destroying the wood around homes, barns and outdoor structures is at the top of everyone’s list!

A carpenter bee looks very similar to a bumblebee, but without any hair on its stomach. Unlike bumblebees, which live in nests and colonies in the ground, carpenter bees shelter by themselves.

stopping carpenter bees
A carpenter bee drills out a home in an old fence post. The holes they carve look so perfect, you would think they have power tools!

And unfortunately, their single family “homes” happen to be created from perfectly drilled holes in the wood. It is in these holes where adult females raise the larva for the next batch of carpenter bees.

If you see signs of sawdust around exterior eaves or wood surfaces, look closer. You will most likely find a perfectly drilled hole nearby. Along with of course, a hovering male bee that serves as a patrol scout for the home.

Stopping Carpenter Bee Damage

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 males, although they cannot sting, serve as a pesky guard for the nest.

carpenter bee damage
Female carpenter bees drill out holes to raise their young.

Contrary to popular belief, the female carpenter bees are not “eating” the wood. Instead, they are creating shelter and a place to lay their larva.

Shelters that unfortunately ruins the appearance of your exterior wood surfaces. And if left unchecked, leaves that wood open to attack from termites, and the next generation of carpenter bees!

Here are 5 natural methods for stopping carpenter bees and the damage they can cause:

#1 Staining / Painting

The number one rule in stopping carpenter bees with success is to never leave wood surfaces bare. Carpenter bees prefer untreated and unstained wood more than anything else. And nothing keeps them away faster than a fresh coat of paint or stain!

stopping carpenter bees
Keeping wooden structures painted or stained is the first line of defense against carpenter bees.

We have all of the wooden structures on the farm stained or painted except for one – our corn crib / straw pen in the garden. And guess where we have carpenter bees?!

If you do want to keep wood in it’s natural state, at the very least, apply a high quality clear sealer to help seal the wood. And, by the way, that is exactly what we will be doing this weekend to the corn crib!

#2 Citrus Oil As A Repellent

Like many insects, carpenter bees hate the smell of citrus oil. And because of this, it serves as the perfect natural repellent for stopping carpenter bees.

citrus oil
Citrus oil is a natural repellent for many insects, including carpenter bees.

Citrus oil sprayed into newly drilled holes will help keep the bees from creating a nest in the hole. You can also wipe down high impact areas with the oil to keep them from returning and drilling more. (Product link : Citrus Oil)

#3 Give Them Their Own Home – Far Away

Carpenter bees are actually an important pollinator for flowers and gardens. As they devour nectar from blooms, they also pollinate quite effectively in the process.

With that in mind, you can also create a space for them to live in peace, and stop carpenter bees from attacking your own wooden structures.

To do this, you can install a carpenter bee house. Carpenter, or mason bee homes as they are often called, have inviting pre-drilled spaces where bees can live.

mason bee house
Giving bees their own space can help reduce the threat of them finding a home where they are not wanted.

By hanging houses where hovering bees are present, you can attract them to the nest. Then, simply move the nest to a tree far away at the edge of your landscape.

Bees return to the same space year after year, and this is one way to peacefully relocate carpenter bees. (Product link: Mason Bee House)

#4 Chimes & Vibration

Carpenter bees do not like vibration or noise around their nesting sites – and wind chimes and wind-noise devices can be a huge help in stopping carpenter bees from drilling nearby.

wind chimes
Wind chimes under the eaves can help to repel carpenter bees.

If you have carpenter bees drilling under the eaves or on your porch, try installing a few chimes to drive them away.

#5 Plug Old Carpenter Bee Holes

When it comes to stopping carpenter bees for the long term, plugging old holes is a must!

Carpenter bees will return to the same hole again and again, and by sealing off the holes, you eliminate an easy return.

wooden fence damage
Plug old holes to keep bees from coming back year after year.

Before plugging the hole with an exterior wood filler, be sure to clear it of any larvae that may be present. Not only can they still hatch, they can also be sought out by woodpeckers. And then you have a whole new kind of damage to deal with!

Here is to stopping carpenter bees in their tracks! For more information on controlling pests, check out our Pest & Insect Control section on the blog. Happy Gardening – Jim and Mary.

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