Carpenter Bee

Actual Size: ½ ” –  1”

Characteristics: Large, black and yellow; shiny hairless abdomen

Legs: 6

Antennae: Yes

Habitat: They do not live in nests. Instead, females bore holes through soft wood to lay eggs in.

Habits:

  • Carpenter bees chew perfect round holes into unpainted/unfinished wood where they will provide food for 4-5 young
  • Female carpenter bees do possess a stinger but seldom use it unless they are handled or provoked
  • Do not eat wood, but cause damage by boring into decaying or weathered wood

Carpenter Bees in Santa Fe and Albuquerque

The carpenter bee is a large, robust bee that bores tunnels into the untreated wood of structures. Generally black in color and 1/4 to 1 inch in length, these bees are often mistaken for bumblebees. Carpenter bees may resemble bumblebees, but are solitary and do not build hives. The upper surface of their abdomen is bare and shiny black, while bumblebees have a hairy abdomen with at least some yellow markings. Carpenter bees do not eat wood, but cause damage to structures by excavating tunnels in wood for their young. They tend to target lumber that is dry and weathered.

Carpenter Bee Habitat

Carpenter bees hibernate in vacant nest tunnels during the winter. As the weather warms in spring, adult bees emerge and mate. Males die after mating, while females construct “brood chambers.” The female carpenter bee begins her nest by drilling a perfectly round entrance hole (about 1/2 inch diameter) into the wood. When the tunnel is about 1 inch deep, the bee turns at right angles and tunnels with the grain of the wood. Females place a ball of food made of pollen and nectar into each chamber. She then lays an egg and seals the chamber shut. Eggs hatch within a few days, and 5 to 7 weeks later, the young bees reach adulthood.

If you notice areas where sawdust has gathered in piles, you may have carpenter bee activity nearby.

Carpenter Bee Behavior & Threats

Although rare, female carpenter bees possess a stinger and can sting at will. Males, on the other hand, do not possess a stinger but are known to be very aggressive and defensive. Carpenter bees can be a real nuisance to homeowners because they tunnel into decks, porches, and other wood structures. Old nests are used year after year and offspring will often times construct nests alongside old nests. For this reason, a single nest one year will become two or three the following year. If carpenter bees are allowed to tunnel in the same structure year after year, the cumulative damage can be significant. For this reason, it’s important to always contact your local bee control experts.