Carpenter bees look like typical bumblebees but often lack yellow stripes. They are solitary bees.
Color: Blue-black, green or purple metallic sheen on abdomen
Shape: Oval; bee shape
Size: 1 inch
Region: All 50
– Resemble bumblebees, but the top of the carpenter bee’s abdomen is hairless, often shiny, black, and has no yellow stripe.
– Are about one inch in length.
– Bore into dried, seasoned and untreated wood surfaces, preferring softwoods such as cedar, redwood, cypress, pine and fir.
– Males are noted for aggressive behavior and a white spot on their face. They are harmless, however, and do not possess stingers; females have stingers but are generally docile.
– Nest in nail holes, exposed saw cuts and unpainted wood.
– Leave sawdust piles near perfectly round tunnels in wood; often these sawdust piles are accompanied by defecation stains.
– Usually emerge from the nest in spring.
– Are commonly found in porch and shed ceilings, railings, overhead trim, wooden porch furniture, dead tree limbs, fence posts, wooden shingles, wooden siding, window sills and wooden doors; prefer wood that is at least two inches thick.
Unlike bumble bees, carpenter bees are solitary insects. Female carpenter bees will chew a tunnel into a piece of wood to build a nest gallery. The bits of wood she chews and deposits outside the nest are called frass. The male carpenter bee guards the outside of the nest. He does not have a stinger, but his constant buzzing causes concern for some.
Carpenter bees bore through soft woods to lay eggs and protect their larvae as they develop.
Carpenter bees do not pose a public health threat, but they can damage wood through their nest building.
Carpenter bees prefer bare wood, so painting and staining wood can sometimes deter them. However, they will sometimes attack stained or painted wood, so contact a pest control professional for assistance.