Carpenter Bees – How to Identify If You Have a Problem
If you have any wood on the exterior of your home, deck, or barn, you probably also have carpenter bees. And you don’t even have to be in the country or have a log cabin to experience this. I’ve seen carpenter bees drill their distinctive hole right in the middle of the wooden front door of our neighbor’s home when we lived in the suburbs. It looked like someone shot a bullet through the door – it was so perfectly round.
The photo above shows the distinctive round hole that they make. They then proceed to drill tunnels, often turning a sharp right angle from the entrance of the hole, that can weaken the wood deep within the log or board. In the tunnels, they lay eggs that hatch into larvae. The larvae turn into carpenter bees that eventually emerge through the same hole.
TIP: Do not plug up / repair carpenter bee holes until late fall so that all the larvae have hatched and the young bees have exited. Young bees exit by looking for the nearest light. If you plug up the hole and eliminate the light, they will just drill another hole to exit.
Carpenter bees like the warm side of a structure. Ours like to drill holes behind the gutter that is against the fascia board on the west side of the house. The gutter retains the warmth of the sun and protects them from the rain.They are active in the spring and nest in the tunnels the rest of the year. Right now, they out and about. They like to hover right in front of me and stare me down – like they are little remote control drones. You can’t help but think they are little aliens scrutinizing our intelligence.
Two Great Carpenter Bee Solutions
Jim and I were out-and-about and came upon a log home manufacturer that had model log homes to tour. We asked them their advice on log cabin maintenance, just to see if there were any new tips we need to incorporate. Boy, were we glad we asked.
They mentioned carpenter bees as being the only real problem and they had two solutions: a trap that does not use any pesticide and a product called Brian’s Bee Butter that does.
Carpenter Bee Trap
Watch this video to see an effective carpenter bee trap that is engineered to do the job right the first time. They explain all the reasons that carpenter bees are attracted to their trap to make it so effective – it is really quite interesting.
I called to ask them some additional questions and learned that when the first couple of bees find your trap and die, they release a pheromone that attracts other bees. If you don’t want to wait for the bees to find the trap, you can speed this up by killing a bee with a tennis racket and putting it into the bee trap.
You can buy this carpenter bee trap for $19.95. (NOTE: I purchased two)
Brian’s Bee Butter for Carpenter Bees
The chemical solution to exterminate carpenter bees is a product called Brian’s Bee Butter that contains permethrin — the same product used to dip dogs & treat head lice in children. I’ve written about permethrin before as a good tick repellent / defense against ticks and I regularly spray it on my clothes before I go on a hike.
The video below shows you exactly how to use it. It comes with a syringe and you simply inject some into the individual carpenter bee holes. The permethrin is carried in a grease, according to the video, that not only protects the permethrin from breaking down prematurely (it normally only has a short life) but also keeps it from dripping so that it stays in the hole to continue to work as baby bees emerge throughout the year.
UPDATE: Unfortunately, I just learned that they are no longer able to sell the Bee Butter. They had been selling it for five years without any problem, but the EPA, in their ultimate wisdom, decided that they need to resubmit it for review since they were mixing already approved ingredients. It would cost $40,000 PER STATE! Another government intervention that is limiting small business.
Have any of you used these products yet?
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