By Walt Cline
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.
Picture courtesy : Kansas State University Research and Extension
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.
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.
Bumble bees don't nest in the wood, but rather on the ground.
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 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 a all types of wood, but prefer weathered and unpainted wood.
Male carpenter bees tend to be territorial and can buzz around you if you approach closely, sometimes hovering a short distance in front of your face or buzzing around your head. Since males have no stinger, these actions are just for show and intimidation.
The female bee can squeeze through incredibly tiny places to bore into untreated wood.
The female use these galleries to lay eggs. A typical gallery has an entrance hole on the wood srufaxce and continues inward for a short distance. It then turns sharply upwards and runs in the same direction as the wood. The female provides a ball of pollen on which an egg is laid. She closes the gallery by placing a mass of wood pulp;constructing a series of cells. This understanding of their construction is important when dusting carpenter bee holes.