Darrell Blackwelder: Carpenter bees can be difficult to control

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 13, 2023

Carpenter bees are starting to show up in all areas of Rowan County. The initial activity is often by males buzzing about looking for the queen bee of their dreams. The males are often territorial and often harass people sitting on wooden park benches, decks and outdoor porches. Unfortunately, there is no pesticides that will give extended protection against these pests throughout the spring and summer. Once these insects take up residence, they return back each year extending their family.

The bees do not eat the wood, but are burrowing to find an adequate nesting place. There are a number of problems dealing with carpenter bees: an effective chemical residue that endures throughout the entire period of bee activity, the ability to apply any pesticide to all of the surfaces that need protection, particularly overhead on soffit and fascia boards. One option is to apply a pesticide into their active tunnels, follow up by adding a small ball of aluminum foil and then seal the hole. Dust insecticides, such as Sevin dust, can be quite effective.

In recent years, carpenter bee traps have become available and appear to be another viable method of control. Wooden boxes with half inch holes drilled in the box at an upward angle entices carpenter bees to explore and become trapped. The bottom of the box has either a jar or other removable device so you can remove your inquisitive, captured bees. Go to https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/carpenter-bees for more detailed information about carpenter bees.

Darrell Blackwelder is the retired horticulture agent and director with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County. Contact him at deblackw@ncsu.edu.