Carpenter bees get their common name from their habit of boring into wood to
make galleries for the rearing of young. These are worldwide in distribution with
7 species occurring in the United States. They don’t have a hive as honey bees but
are solitary bees. The female Carpenter bee can get into small areas, boring holes.
Carpenter Bee Identification
Adult body length is about 1/2 to1 inch (12.5 to 25 mm). They are robust, resembling
bumble bees, but larger, with the top surface of abdomen mostly bare and shiny.
The male has a yellow face. The females face is black.
Difference Between Carpenter Bees and Bumble Bees
They can resemble bumble bees, but the upper surface of their abdomen is bare and shiny black, while bumble bees have a hairy abdomen with at least some yellow markings.
Carpenter Bee Signs
Carpenter bees get their name from their ability to drill through wood and nest in it. Their drilling will create a nearly perfect hole approximately 1/2 inch in diameter. You will see round holes and a coarse sawdust-like substance called frass underneath the holes. The holes are perfectly round and are about 3/8 inch in diameter. You may find old holes near the newer ones. Old nests can be used year after year by the carpenter bee.Their holes are usually located on the underside of any wood surface including siding, soffits, overhangs, decks, fence posts, fascia boards and window frames.
Carpenter Bee Habits & Biology
Carpenter Bees are insects that overwinter in wood nests. They come out in the spring and mate. The females lay their eggs in excavated tunnels called galleries. Since Carpenter Bees pollinate, they provide the baby carpenter bees with a ball of pollen.
During the spring, the males seek out the females, hovering around females that found some unfinished wood, such as under eaves, railings, etc. The males are territorial and will confront you if you enter their territory, but they are incapable of stinging. Females have a stinger, but are very docile. Females will nest in all types of wood, but prefer weathered and unpainted wood.