Unlike the name suggests, carpenter bees are destructive rather than creative when it comes to the wooden structures in your abode. Don’t want these pests to burrow into the wood around your house? Read on to learn how to get rid of them.
Carpenter bees, also known as wood bees, are named for their habit of burrowing into wooden structures. This includes dead wood logs, bamboo and structures made of cedar, redwood, cypress, fir or pine wood. The bees don’t eat the wood, but burrow into it to lay their eggs.
Their nesting practices can be really destructive to your home and surrounding structures like decks and sheds. The females chew through the wood, leaving gaping circular holes behind that are easily identifiable. The females drill holes that face the sun, and go deep into the wood to lay their larvae.
Carpenter bees are quite antisocial and can be picked off one-by-one. Unlike the females, the males have white heads and do not sting. It’s the nesting females that you need to watch out for and even they don’t pose any hazard until handled with bare hands.
Keeping carpenter bees away from your residence is necessary to prevent structural damage to the property over time. In an effort to prevent massive property damage, try some of these natural methods to rid your home of carpenter bees.
- Method 1: Use a DIY Trap
- Method 2: Use a DIY Repellent Spray
- Method 3: Use Boric Acid
- Method 4: Use a Vacuum Cleaner
- Method 5: Use Citrus Spray
- Method 6: Use Diatomaceous Earth
- Method 7: Use Vinegar and Steel Wool
- Method 8: Use Badminton Racquets
Method 1: Use a DIY Trap
This simple DIY trap will help you capture carpenter bees. It consists of a wooden block with holes drilled in it that lead to a container like a bottle or Mason jar.
The holes are connected in a way that once they’ve entered, the bees are unable to find their way out. When the bees crawl into the trap, the narrow mouth of the bottle prevents them from flying out and the slippery side of the bottle prevents them from crawling out.
Holes intended to lure in the bees are the size preferred by the bees, which connect to the larger holes that lead to the trap. With a plastic bottle and a stray block of wood, you can make an effective trap. You can either make a single trap or make 2 or 3 traps on a long wooden block, depending on your need.
Carpenter bees prefer using old holes instead of drilling new ones. That’s what will lead them to the trap. You’ll need to be patient if your trap doesn’t pick up traffic readily. Once one carpenter bee goes through, the others will follow.
Things you’ll need:
- Wooden block
- Plastic bottle – 2
Step 1. Mark and drill the entrance holes
- Mark a nickel-sized hole with a marker in the wide side of the wooden block.
- Drill the hole halfway through the depth of the wood.
- Repeat the activity to make another entrance hole, if making a double trap.
Step 2. Mark and drill the trap holes
- The trap holes are drilled on the narrow side of the wooden block, at a 90-degree angle from the entrance holes.
- Trace the outline of the mouth of the plastic bottle to mark a circle on the wooden block.
- Drill a conical hole through the circle, so that it narrows down its depth. The hole must be deep enough to meet the entrance hole.
- Make another trap hole to connect to the second entrance hole.
Step 3. Insert bottles into the trap holes
- Screw the mouths of the bottles into each hole.
Step 4. Make hanging arrangements
- Hammer in some nails on the side opposite of the entrance holes.
- You can also use D-ring metal hangers instead of simple nails, if you need to hang the traps up high.
Step 5. Hang the trap in a strategic place
- Hang the trap near the wooden structures that the carpenter bees frequent.
- Empty the bottles when there are plenty of bees trapped in it.
Method 2: Use a DIY Repellent Spray
An essential oil repellent works well to repel a variety of insects from bed bugs to bees, including carpenter bees. It’s easy to make, simple to use and produces effective results. Plus, it’s a much safer alternative to chemical pesticides.
This DIY repellent spray contains two essential oils in a base of rubbing alcohol and apple cider vinegar. The base of the solution will kill the bees when sprayed directly on them and the lavender and tea tree essential oils will keep the bees away from the area for a longer period of time.
Things you’ll need:
- 99% Rubbing alcohol (kill the bees)– 1 tablespoon
- Apple cider vinegar (ACV) (effectively kill the bees) – 2 teaspoons
- Lavender essential oil (bee repellent) – 5 or 6 drops
- Tea tree essential oil (keep the bees away) – 5 or 6 drops
Step 1. Combine the ingredients in a small spray bottle
- Pour 2 teaspoons of ACV into a small spray bottle.
- Pour in 1 tablespoon of 99% rubbing alcohol as well.
- Add 5 or 6 drops each of tea tree and lavender essential oils.
- Put the spray nozzle back on and give it a couple of shakes.
Step 2. Spray the solution into the bees’ nests
- Spray the solution over the holes made by the carpenter bees to repel them and prevent them from returning.
- You can also spray the solution directly on the bees to kill them. Wear protective clothing while doing so.
Method 3: Use Boric Acid
Boric acid can be used as an effective poison against carpenter bees. It acts as a stomach poison and can be spread from one insect to another through contact during grooming. This makes it an effective remedy for the female bees along with their larvae.
However, make sure that you keep the supply of boric acid guarded from curious pets. It may be harmful to them if ingested in large amounts.
Step 1. Cover the holes in the wood with boric acid
- With thickly gloved hands, sprinkle boric acid in the holes made by the carpenter bees to kill their larvae.
Step 2. Remove the excess boric acid
- Remove excess boric acid with a board duster or a rag. Excess boric acid at the entrance hole immediately kills the bees on contact and will prevent them from spreading the poison throughout the nest to the other bees in the colony.
Method 4: Use a Vacuum Cleaner
Vacuuming is another way to get rid of carpenter bees, especially if the holes are new and do not run deep. A new colony will house about 20 bees or less, including the queen bee. This number can be conveniently managed with a vacuum cleaner.
The powerful suction of a vacuum cleaner can suck in the bugs that can then be easily disposed of. This activity is best carried out in the evening when the bees are resting in the burrows.
- Wear protective clothing, complete with gloves and headgear.
- Insert the vacuum nozzle into the hole and turn on the vacuum.
- You can also use a stick to agitate the bees. It’s easier to vacuum up the bees when they start stirring.
- Once all the bees are sucked in by the machine, caulk the holes to prevent their future use.
- Seal the vacuum bag and dispose it of carefully.
Method 5: Use Citrus Spray
Citrus is another repellent that works well with carpenter bees, as they can’t tolerate the citrus essential oils. You can easily make a repellent that is natural, safe for your family and pet-friendly.
All you need to do is boil citrus fruit in some water. This infuses the water with the essential oils present in the fruit. Lemon and lime can be used to make the most effective sprays. For an extra kick, you can always spike it with an essential oil of your choice.
Step 1. Boil lemon in water
- Pour 1 cup of water into a pan and place it over heat.
- Put the slices of 1 large lemon into it.
- Let the water come to a boil and allow it to simmer for a couple of minutes.
Step 2. Strain the citrus water
- Take the pan off the heat and strain the citrus water through a strainer.
Step 3. Add an essential oil of your choice (optional)
- If you’d like to make your citrus spray extra effective, add 5 or 6 drops of an essential oil of your choice into it. You can use orange, lemon, lemongrass, eucalyptus, lavender or tea tree oil for this purpose.
Step 4. Put the citrus water into a spray bottle
- Pour the citrus water into a spray bottle for ease of application.
Step 5. Spray the citrus bee repellent where needed
- Wear gloves to protect your hands.
- Spray the citrus water liberally over the bee holes and the areas frequented by them, as you won’t have much chance of hitting a bee mid-flight.
- Spray every week to keep the bees from returning.
Method 6: Use Diatomaceous Earth
DE is a soft, sedimentary rock that crumbles into an off-white, talc-like substance. It is constituted of fossilized remains of marine phytoplankton. On a microscopic level, its structure resembles the shards of broken glass due to the presence of silica in it.
The shard-structures pierce the exoskeleton of the bees. These lesions dehydrate the bees, killing them. The bees also spread the DE throughout the colony through contact.
- Wear gloves to protect your hands from bee stings.
- Fill the openings of the bee holes with food-grade DE.
- Seal the openings with caulk or putty to trap the bees.
Method 7: Use Vinegar and Steel Wool
A rather peculiar trait of carpenter bees is that once their hole is sealed, they don’t try to chew through the blockage to escape. This comes in real handy when dealing with them, as all you need to do is fill up the holes.
Steel wool works best to seal up the holes, as the carpenter bees won’t be able to chew through it in case they try. It will also deter other bees from entering the holes. Vinegar acts as a repellent and will deter the bees from choosing that wooden structure for nesting again.
Things you’ll need:
- White vinegar in a spray bottle (bee repellent)
- Steel wool
Singe-Step Treatment: Seal the holes with steel wool
- Spray the steel wool liberally with white vinegar.
- Stuff the vinegar-soaked steel wool into the bees’ entrance holes. You may want to wear gloves to protect your hands.
- You can also trim the steel wool according to the size of the holes with a strong pair of scissors.
Method 8: Use Badminton Racquets
If you’re looking for a fun way to deal with the carpenter bees buzzing noisily in your yard, a badminton or tennis racquet can be used to smash them.
- Wear full clothing when you’re going to play “badmintons and bees”. The males don’t have stingers, but the females may sting you on contact.
- All you need to do is to use your racquet like an oversized bug swatter and get the bees with it as they come. A well-timed smash will send any carpenter bee crashing into the ground.
- After swatting them with the racquet, you’ll need to crush the bees under your shoe promptly to finish them off. Wear covered shoes when stepping on the bees.
- Wooden structures pockmarked with holes with an accumulation of sawdust nearby are easy markers of a carpenter bee infestation.
- Don’t use treated lumber or hardwood to make the carpenter bee trap. Go for old, untreated wood instead, as that’s what the bees will prefer.
- Only a powerful vacuum cleaner can be used to get rid of carpenter bees.
- Instead of whole fruits, you can also boil lemon, orange and lime peels to make a citrus spray. The bulk of the essential oils are present in the peels of citrus fruits.
- Wear a mask while working with DE if you have asthma or other lung problems.
- Always seal up the holes in the wood with caulk or steel wool after getting rid of the bees.
- Filling up the entrance holes should always be done at night to trap the entire bee colony in their holes.
Summary of How to Get Rid of Carpenter Bees Naturally
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