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Carpenter Bees
Old 03-31-2011, 08:14 AM   #1
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Carpenter Bees

Anyone have any experience with carpenter bees?

We have exposed rafter tails (not pressure treated) on our hip roof, which is 40 feet off the ground (house is on 10 foot concrete piers).

We've heard that paint will definitely keep them out, but some have also said that a glossy stain will work. For maintenance reasons, we'd rather use stain than paint if it will stop them drilling into the wood.

Other treatments? Anybody ever treated a log cabin? I wondered if there was something that was just a clear insecticide that would last for a few months each spring. It is just hard for us to get up there to spray anything.

The bees are flying right now, so I understand we need to wait until after the babies hatch and fly out, or else they'll just drill their way out of the wood. Dang bees!
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Old 03-31-2011, 09:14 AM   #2
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Are these the big black and yellow bees that make a 3/8" diameter holes in the wood?
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Old 03-31-2011, 09:22 AM   #3
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Yes, they burrow in and lay eggs in the wood (usually softwood, but will go into pressure treated too). Look like bumblebees, or at least the ones down here do. I think they have a pretty big range.
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Old 03-31-2011, 09:32 AM   #4
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I have an old and established colony of them in my cottage. They are physically harmless. They laugh at paint. When I was painting the wood they call home, they kept buzzing around. I painted several of them to back them off.
I have tried steel wool in the holes but that didn't work out. A standard size dowel fits in the holes. I think it is 3/8". I will try to replace the wood this spring.
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Old 03-31-2011, 09:45 AM   #5
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Quote:
"And God said unto Noah... make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch."
Wood preservation - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old 03-31-2011, 09:57 AM   #6
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I have a colony living in the eaves of my garden shed. They have been there for over five years, in pressure-treated wood with two coats of paint on it. They're harmless and we get along with each other just fine.
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Old 03-31-2011, 10:03 AM   #7
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I had a similar experience from yellowjackets (I think), they had yellow and black stripes and would lay honeycomb nests on the wood. Found they chewed through my soffit/fascia and nested inside my roof on the 2nd floor. I used the spray cans that shoot 20ft for hornets and wasps, all the while on a 30ft extension ladder. This stuff kills on contact and isn't too costly. This got me close enough to get the nest out. I doused everything in sight when I got close enough. I figure if you poison the eggs, I doubt they'll last through a normal birth. Also found them nesting in the dirt below my AC unit under a cement slab. Not sure of the strategy, but they were in the same area in the ground and straight above under my roof line. I ended up using a wood filler to fix the parts that got chewed away and caulked.
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Old 03-31-2011, 10:20 AM   #8
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My dad had some problems with them a few years ago in the roof over the patio. He saw some holes bored into the low overhead beams and squirted some poison into them. Soon after, a carpenter bee or two would come flying out, buzz around for a few seconds and drop to the grass nearby, he told me. After a few weeks of that, he had no further problems. I think he then caulked the holes they left behind.
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Old 03-31-2011, 10:21 AM   #9
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Y'all aren't worried about them destroying the wood? I did find this on the NC extension website, so maybe we are freaking out for nothing.

DAMAGE
Typically, carpenter bees do not cause serious structural damage to wood unless large numbers of bees are allowed to drill many tunnels over successive years. The bees often eliminate their wastes before entering the tunnel. Yellowish-brown staining from voided fecal matter may be visible on the wood beneath the hole as seen in the picture above. In the case of thin wood, such as siding, this damage can be severe. Holes on exposed surfaces may lead to damage by wood-decaying fungi or attack by other insects, such as carpenter ants.

CONTROL
Preventing carpenter bee damage is difficult (or nearly impossible) for several reasons. Protective insecticide sprays applied to wood surfaces are effective for only a short period even when repeated every few weeks. Since the bees are not actually eating the wood and they are active over several weeks, they are rarely exposed to lethal doses of the pesticide. Second, since virtually any exposed wood on the house could be attacked, it is difficult and usually impractical and unsafe to try applying a pesticide to all possible sites where the bees might tunnel. Trying to spray bees that are seen hovering about is not a sensible (or particularly safe) use of pesticides either. Swatting hovering bees will often prove to be just as effective.

NCSU Entomology Insect Notes

Dimsum, that is kinda what we were thinking, but dang I hate that 30 foot ladder!
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Old 03-31-2011, 12:18 PM   #10
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I will give pitch a pitch and see how that works on the new wood.

Yellow jackets are a whole different ball game. We must have death. Bring out the poisons and napalm.
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Old 03-31-2011, 04:09 PM   #11
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The other idea I had is when you've successfully sprayed/killed the bees, if they haven't bored too deep into the wood. I'd try a small handheld proprane torch (micro torch is even better, like the ones to torch creme brulee, sorry, my attempt to throw food in the mix!) to lightly cook the eggs. This should kill off any babies. Of course, you'll need to be very careful not to light up the house! Make sure you have a garden hose and/or extinguisher handy if you decide to try this.
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Old 03-31-2011, 10:27 PM   #12
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Carpenter bees are a bitch, I had them at my old house and now they have appeared here. My old house was slab sided hemlock like my woodshed and barn so that's why they are here now, the house is vinyl.

They look exactly like Bumblebees but they are about 25-50% larger, most BB are small. They like to hover, I never saw a BB do that.

At the old house when they were in full force in May, it looked like snow was falling. There were a lot of them, dozens of them! We were trying to sell the house and for the 1 time in 8 years we paid an exterminator to spray the holes. It lasts for the season only but does kill them. They can make a mess out of the wood and do not reuse an old hole. i'm surprised to here paint does not deter them as i was told and have read they will not bore into painted wood.
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Old 04-02-2011, 07:28 PM   #13
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Carpenter bees can really do structural damage to wooden structures if you do not take care of them. I used to put sevin dust in the holes and later caulk the holes after the bees had died. I have been using traps now and they seem to keep the bees under control. I made my own traps to save money, but you can buy them also. The traps do work. Here's where you can buy, or get ideas to make your own.
Carpenter Bee Solutions - The Best Carpenter Bee Trap & Other Carpenter Bee Control Products
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Old 04-02-2011, 08:49 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Redbugdave View Post
Carpenter bees can really do structural damage to wooden structures if you do not take care of them. I used to put sevin dust in the holes and later caulk the holes after the bees had died. I have been using traps now and they seem to keep the bees under control. I made my own traps to save money, but you can buy them also. The traps do work. Here's where you can buy, or get ideas to make your own.
Carpenter Bee Solutions - The Best Carpenter Bee Trap & Other Carpenter Bee Control Products
Checked out this website, they sell a bee butter which uses pymethrin (also permethrin). You can get this in powder form since it's the main ingredient in a lot of pet flea and tick solutons. You can get this stuff from pet supplies/hardware/garden supply stores. Seems this vendor mixed in with clear grease. I would imagine you can do this yourself using vaseline (or another clear grease) and powder mixed together and spread onto the bored holes. Only problem is you'll still need to climb up that ladder (or have someone else do it).
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Old 04-04-2011, 10:33 AM   #15
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Interesting trap. I can definitely see that being of interest to DH--he's the one swatting at them with a racquetball racquet all day long! Thanks for the link. And I may be able to rig up a caulk gun sort of thing to get that permethin/grease combo up to the existing holes.
Thanks y'all!
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Old 04-04-2011, 12:26 PM   #16
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Hey, I'm not the only one swatting at them with a racquet. I also use a butterfly type of net to catch them, too. With a net you can get the additional pleasure of squashing them.
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Old 04-04-2011, 02:53 PM   #17
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Oh I can't tell you the number of times I wished I had a tennis or badminton racket (sp?) as these things just hover at arm's length! If you have outside faucets turn on the water and you may be surprised to see a CB come out and you can stomp it on the ground.
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