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Carpenter Bees

Most Common Types

There are two groups of carpenter bees in the United States: small carpenter bees (Ceratina species) and large carpenter bees (Xylocopa species). Small carpenter bees only attack small twigs and other ‘woody’ items. Large carpenter bees can bore into wood in your home and cause significant damage.

What They Look Like

Large carpenter bees are about 1 inch long and have considerable golden yellow hairs just behind their head. They resemble bumble bees with a few shiny black hairs. Small carpenter bees are smaller than other carpenter bee pests – ½ to ¾ inch in length, and are mostly a dark brown/black with few pale yellow hairs.

Where They Live

The carpenter bee, Xylocopa virginica, is the most destructive carpenter bee in the U.S. and can be found anywhere from Maine to Florida and west to the Rocky Mountains. The mountain carpenter bee, Xylocopa tabaniformis orpifex, can be found in Western states.

Where They Nest

Carpenter bees nest in wood. They do not have colonies like honey bees but they will use the same piece of wood.

Steps to Prevent

In some cases, you can prevent carpenter bees by painting exposed wood surfaces. However, the best way to prevent carpenter bees is to hire a professional to put an insecticidal dust into the wood holes.

Are They Harmful?

The male carpenter bee is the more aggressive gender. They are the bees that most likely would buzz around your head. However, they lack a stinger so they aren’t able to cause as much harm. The female carpenter bee is able to sting, but usually requires being strongly provoked in order to do so. The best tip to avoid being stung is to not swat at them.