Here’s the buzz on getting rid of carpenter bees naturally
If you notice signs of an infestation around your home, it’s suggested to learn how to get rid of carpenter bees naturally before relying on pesticides or insecticides. Carpenter bees are important pollinators, but an infestation can cause structural damage to your home.
Similar to termites, female carpenter bees build their nests by drilling holes into wooden structures including home exteriors, window sills, decks, playgrounds, and trees.
Protect your home, family, and ecosystem with the natural pest control methods below.
Difficulty: Simple (2/5)
DIY experience and special training aren’t required to apply these bee removal techniques to your home. However, the increased project difficulty surrounds the trial and error required to find the most effective method, along with the potential danger of being stung.
Total Project Time: 1 hour
It takes about an hour to make and spray essential oil deterrents. However, the total project time may increase if additional removal methods are required.
Essential oil (the base ingredient in DIY repellent spray) costs about $7 per bottle. The total project cost increases if you need to buy additional materials or try other removal methods.
Citrus essential oil
Almond oil or extract
Steel wool or wood putty
Stain or varnish
5 Ways to Get Rid of Carpenter Bees Naturally
Use one or a combination of these five humane carpenter bee removal techniques to protect your home and get rid of them without killing them.
1. Citrus Spray
Citrus fruit (lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit, etc.) is a scent known to naturally deter carpenter bees. While you can buy a premade citrus spray online, many homeowners find it beneficial to make their own. By doing so, you can control the ingredients and amount of citrus used. Make a citrus spray with the following recipe:
Fill a spray bottle halfway with water
Add 10 drops of citrus essential oil
Secure the lid and shake the bottle well
Spray the mixture liberally around the nest. If the bees still come back, you may need to reapply the mixture with 5–10 additional drops of citrus oil.
2. Almond Oil
Almond is another scent that is said to repel bees. Almond-scented spray can be made using the same method as the citrus spray above. Just swap citrus essential oil for almond oil or extract. Almond scent is lighter when compared to citrus, so you may need to add 5–10 additional almond oil drops right out of the gate.
3. Vibrations and Sounds
It’s believed that carpenter bees become irritated by vibrations and loud noises. Try pointing a speaker toward the bee’s nest and playing loud music with heavy bass for six hours, continually checking the nest.
4. Decoy or “Sacrificial” Wood
The goal of this method is to lure bees out of their current nest by using the methods listed above and coax them into a controlled nest. To do this, you’ll need a piece of unfinished wood that’s too good for a carpenter bee to ignore. Softwood such as pine, redwood, or cedar will work best.
Make sure the wood is thick enough to hold a carpenter bee nest. You can even use a drill and a hole saw bit to create a nickel-sized hole to encourage bees in.
Place the decoy plank near the original nest on a ladder to get it elevated and monitor it regularly. Once the bees nest in the new spot, carefully move the plank as far away from your home as possible.
5. Wait It Out
Though this method won’t help protect your home in the short term, it’s the most effective option if the above methods fail. Carpenter bees don’t stay in one nest for long. Carefully monitor the nest daily by listening for buzzing noises. Gently tap around the area and look for bees emerging from the nest.
Once you believe the bees have fled, fill the hole with steel wool or wood putty. Seal the hole with caulk and paint over it with a stain or varnish. Spray the area liberally with a citrus or almond spray regularly throughout the following spring and summer for extra protection.
Preventing a Carpenter Bee Infestation Around Your Home
Prevention is key to carpenter bee control. If you’ve had problems around your home in the past, there are things you can do in the fall to prevent carpenter bees from coming back in the early spring.
Seal Existing Wood Holes
Carpenter bees usually begin leaving their nests in the fall—the perfect time to seal existing carpenter bee holes so they don’t come back the following year. Use wood putty or steel wool to fill the empty nest. Seal it with caulk and paint stain or varnish over top.
Treat Your Wood
Treat the exposed wood and crevices around your house with layers of paint, stain, or varnish to deter carpenter bees. Consider installing vinyl siding in the most vulnerable areas.
Carpenter Bee FAQs
Removing carpenter bees from your home can be tricky. Here are a few answers to your most common carpenter bee questions.
Do carpenter bees sting?
A female carpenter bee can sting you, though usually only if provoked. Male carpenter bees, however, don’t have stingers. The queen bee drills extended tunnels inside the wood to lay eggs, so she is not often seen. It is more common to come into contact with a male bee protecting the hive.
If you’re allergic to bees, it’s best to contact a local pest control company to handle the situation for you.
How can I tell carpenter bees apart from other types of bees?
Carpenter bees closely resemble bumblebees, but there are a few key differences to look for. While bumblebees have fuzzy yellow stripes along their entire body, carpenter bees are mainly black with a hard, shiny shell and a fuzzy yellow head.
Why are they called carpenter bees?
Carpenter bees get their name from the way they build their nests. Unlike other bees that build a hive on the exterior of a structure, carpenter bees drill into exposed wood, similar to a carpenter using a drill.
How can I identify a carpenter bee infestation?
You may have a carpenter bee problem if you notice the following:
Nickel-sized holes in wood structures from burying
Chewing noises coming from inside the wood
Sawdust found underneath the boreholes
What are the risks of having a carpenter bee infestation around my home?
While carpenter bees prefer to leave people alone, there’s always the risk of being stung by a female bee that might be wandering or provoked. Additionally, carpenter bees build their nests by digging holes into wood, potentially causing damage to your home.
Is it OK to use carpenter bee traps?
Carpenter bees are important pollinators—they play a large role in our ecosystem and food chain. While effective, a carpenter bee trap will kill them, so it should only be considered as a last resort. This includes pesticides, insecticides, aerosols, bee sprays, and insecticide dust as well.
Displacing bees without harm and preventing their return is the most humane and ethical way to handle a bee issue on your property.