The Bees That Can Drill Through Wood
It is easy to panic when a bee is hovering around your head. In these situations most people notice the bee’s relatively large bulbous body and assume that they are being pestered by a bumblebee. These same bees are also found hovering beneath the eaves of people’s homes during the summer. These bees are most likely carpenter bees, and not bumblebees. Although carpenter bees resemble bumblebees in size and appearance, carpenter bees are not social insects, they are solitary. These bees are also sometimes found drilling into wood. Understandably, this odd sight confuses many people who witness this drilling.
Luckily, carpenter bees do not cause extensive damage to wood. These bees will not cause the same degree of wood damage to a home that termites will. However, an adult bee’s brood will cause a significant amount of further destruction to wood with their tunneling activities. These broods appear around a year after an adult bee inhabits an inner cavity of wood. In many cases humans may somehow remove the adult before a brood hatches. In addition to causing structural damage, the bees also cause stains on wood or other nearby objects by excreting their waste in the infested area. Unlike termites, carpenter bees do not eat wood; instead they carve out little rooms that provide shelter and eventually house their offspring. It is only when the offspring hatch that extensive damage to wood can occur.
Carpenter bees typically choose areas of a home that contain wood that is free of paint. Common affected areas of a home include doors, window sills, roof eaves, shingles, railings, telephone poles, and occasionally wooden outdoor furniture. The wood damage begins when an adult carpenter bee carves out a circular opening that is about a half an inch in diameter. These bees prefer to carve out homes in wood that is more than two inches thick. At first, the bees do their carving against the grain of the wood. Once the bees manage to travel an inch into their chosen wood-site, they will take a ninety degree turn and proceed to continue carving against the grain. Carpenter bees can use their wood carved homes as locations that are safe for hibernation during the winter months.
Have you ever spotted a carpenter bee causing damage to wood? Or have you ever spotted damage that you believe was caused by a carpenter bee?