Carpenter bees look like typical bumble bees but often lack yellow stripes. They are solitary bees.
- Resemble bumblebees, but the top of the carpenter bee's abdomen is hairless, often shiny, black, and has no yellow stripe.
- Are about one inch in length.
- Bore into dried, seasoned and untreated wood surfaces, preferring softwoods such as cedar, redwood, cypress, pine and fir.
- Males are noted for aggressive behavior and a white spot on their face. They are harmless, however, and do not possess stingers; females have stingers but are generally docile.
- Nest in nail holes, exposed saw cuts and unpainted wood.
- Leave sawdust piles near perfectly round tunnels in wood; often these sawdust piles are accompanied by defecation stains.
- Usually emerge from the nest in spring.
- Are commonly found in porch and shed ceilings, railings, overhead trim, wooden porch furniture, dead tree limbs, fence posts, wooden shingles, wooden siding, window sills and wooden doors; prefer wood that is at least two inches thick.
Unlike bumble bees, carpenter bees are solitary insects. Female carpenter bees will chew a tunnel into a piece of wood to build a nest gallery. The bits of wood she chews and deposits outside the nest are called frass. The male carpenter bee guards the outside of the nest. He does not have a stinger, but his constant buzzing causes concern for some.
Carpenter bees bore through soft woods to lay eggs and protect their larvae as they develop.
Carpenter bees do not pose a public health threat, but they can damage wood through their nest building. Read more about carpenter bee damage .
Carpenter bees prefer bare wood, so painting and staining wood can sometimes deter them. However, they will sometimes attack stained or painted wood, so contact a pest control professional for assistance.