We’ve all seen carpenter bees. In fact, you can’t miss them as, apart from the bumble bee queens, they are the largest native bees in the US. However, when you see those telltale ½” round holes in unfinished, soft, damp or dry woods, or perhaps holes in your outdoor furnishings and decks, then the chances are that your property has been infested them.
Similar to carpenter ants, these bees don’t eat wood and use wood to make a nesting area. But while the telltale signs of carpenter ants are hollowed out ‘galleries’ in the wood, carpenter bees make neat ‘bore’ holes. Though carpenter bees tend not to be aggressive, they can cause huge damage to your garden furnishings and structural beams in your house. Also, the male carpenter bees can get aggressive around people when they feel a quick movement, such as – waving the hand in the air, and might sting. Several chemical products are available in the market, but how to get rid of carpenter bees in a non-toxic way? Here are some home remedies that will help you do away with these nuisances in an eco-friendly manner.
Home Remedies to Control Carpenter Bees
1. Vacuum Cleaner
By making use of the smallest nozzle of your vacuum cleaner, you can easily get rid of the carpenter bees from the wood. Take a vacuum cleaner and put it over the openings or holes and vacuum up the bees. If the vacuum is not strong, you will never be able to get them out. This remedy works best when the nest is pretty new one. For the best results, the finest time to perform this remedy would be in the evening hours as the bees are in their nest during these hours and will not be able to escape. Vacuuming is an effective method to get rid of bees and yellow jackets (1).
It may sound strange, but it works magic. Carpenter bees can’t tolerate noise, so make a loud noise to get rid of them. Set up a boom box or sound box adjacent to their dwellings to encourage them to fly away. This remedy is both safe as well as hassle-free.
Spraying diesel or petrol in the burrows will kill the bees. Being flammable, it may damage your skin, so be cautious while using it. Wear an N-95 respirator, gloves, and goggles while squirting petrol in the burrows. If you are making use of a spray bottle, then label it and put it aside for use of petrol-only in the future.
4. Block the Holes
This remedy is particularly useful for those who abhor the after-effects that are caused by spraying the insecticides. Closing all the openings and entries of their nest may prove out to be an effective step to get rid of carpenter bees. Use steel wool for this purpose since they won’t be able to dig through steel wool. You can also make use of caulk and putty (2,). Holes should be blocked in the night as adult carpenter bees are actively foraging in daytime (4). But it is better to block the tunnel using a dusted plug of copper gauze or steel wool because adult bees can come out through shallow caulk or putty.
5. Bee Sprays
This is one of the most traditional methods to eliminate carpenter bees. Use the store-bought sprays and squirt it directly into the nest when you feel that the carpenter bees are inside the nest. Cover the hole using duct tape for 24 hours after spraying. Remove the tape and repeat the process if any other activity is noticed inside the tunnel (6). Make sure you follow all the instructions mentioned on the product and wear the protective equipment, for instance- gloves and goggles, to guard your skin (7).
6. Vinyl Siding
Yet another effective way to keep carpenter bees away from your home is by using vinyl siding to keep your home protected. Vinyl siding has a non-wooden surface that can’t be damaged by these insects (8, 9).
7. Boric Acid
Boric acid serves as a poison for the bees. Spray boric acid in the holes of the carpenter bees, in order to kill their larvae before they hatch (10).
8. Aerosol Carburetor Cleaner
Spray aerosol carburetor cleaner on the bees or on their burrows (11, 12). It is certainly not a gentle product to be used for the extermination of carpenter bee, but it is the most effective remedy. It is available in varied types – some types may be effective in killing them instantly inside their burrow while the others will make their homes uninhabitable (13).
Note – Keep the cleaner away from your eyes or face; read the precautions and wear protection for your own safety.
- Alternatively, aerosol sprays can directly be sprayed in their burrows. After one or two days close the entrance hole with plastic wood or caulking compound (14, 15).
9. Badminton Rackets
During the spring season, carpenter bees fly around in search of burrows so as to lay eggs or feed their larvae. This means they become very active for 2 – 3 weeks. Make use of tennis or badminton racket to smash them down. The next obvious extra option after hitting them is to step on them (with shoes on, of course).
10. Citrus Spray
Squirt citrus spray on the affected areas. Look for a citrus-based spray that is specifically designed for carpenter bees or you can even make it on your own. Take any of the citrus fruit such as lemon, orange, grapefruit, or lime, and allow it to boil in a shallow pot completely filled with water. Now, take a spray bottle and fill it with the prepared citrus solution. Spray it on the holes of the carpenter bees.
Like other insects, carpenter bees also have a natural abhorrence to citrus oil (16).
11. Almond Oil
12. Diatomaceous Earth
Wear your gloves and fill the burrows made by the carpenter bees with some diatomaceous earth. It is medically known to kill the insects and dry them out. Now, close the holes with the help of putty. Diatomaceous earth is a temporary solution of getting rid of carpenter bees (18, 19).
Make sure you don’t use the glove for any other purpose; either throw them away or keep them for the next time. At the end, rinse your hands with soap and water.
Carpenter bees don’t eat wood, they dig the tunnels for shelter. It is easy to excavate unpainted objects like doors, windows, roof eaves, shingles, railings, etc. Therefore, all the outdoor wooden surfaces of your house should be painted to reduce bee infestation (20, 21). Although the bees attack all wooden surfaces, it is believed that they give more preference to untreated wood (22, 23). Use a good quality exterior primer and apply two coats for better protection (24). Oil based paints can also be used to keep carpenter bees away (25).
14. Use Natural repellent
All you need is a little lavender oil, jojoba oil, citronella oil and tea tree oils. Mix them all and pour this mixture into a sprinkler. Spray this natural insect repellent on the areas where you want to destroy these pests.
All these oils have insect repellent properties (26).
Use of hardwood can also prevent from carpenter bees attack, as the structure of this wood is more complex as compared to softwoods. Oak, ash, cherry, maple are some of its popular types. Make use of this wood rather than softwood to make furniture (27).
16. Pyrethrum spray
Pyrethrum, also known as Tanacetum is a flower with natural insecticidal properties. You can use its spray to kill carpenter bees. Wear gloves, protective clothing, goggles and a respirator to avoid insecticidal dust and bee sting (28).
- Keep all the wooden fixtures well maintained and painted, particularly the vulnerable areas (31, 32).
- Keep an eye on new holes and block them as quickly as possible (33, 34).
- Try to stop the reproduction cycle. Killing the reproducing females or adult bees is not merely enough; you also need to destroy the bee larvae in their burrows so that they don’t reproduce and start the complete menacing cycle all over again.
- You can also use pressure-treated wood for making outdoor furniture (35).
- Avoid using banned pesticides. They are banned as they might be dreadful for you and your children’s health. Moreover, it may cause various serious environmental problems.
- Wear shielding clothes while using any remedy or when handling these carpenter bees, as they can hurt you (36).