Every year like clockwork, once temperatures start to regularly exceed 70°, carpenter bees will awake from their winter long hibernation. The early part of carpenter bee season is already here and Cowleys has been getting calls from homeowners who have been seeing large UFIs — unidentified flying insects — around their property!
Recently, a homeowner in Forked River, NJ contacted Cowleys after observing bees flying around the peaks of her home. She wasn’t sure the kind of bee, but they were big, black, and buzzing. Most important, she wanted them gone, and she contacted Cowleys to resolve the problem.
I arrived mid-afternoon to assess the bee situation and come up with a solution. She accompanied me to the side of her home and pointed upward. I observed several large bees were swarming around the fascia boards as well as tell-tale staining on the siding directly below. At that moment, my suspicions were confirmed. This was a full-blown carpenter bee infestation.
Carpenter Bees are large bees that resemble bumble bees, except they are black and shiny. They live for about a year. The female lays her eggs in nests that they bore themselves out of soft, non-living wood. In doing so, these bees can cause property damage, although nowhere near the damage of termites. Carpenter bees are solitary bees, and their nests usually contain multiple eggs. After hatching, the bee larvae will feed on pollen for a month or two before they mature into adults. After emerging from the nest, they’ll spend the rest of the warm months searching for pollen. Once temperatures drop, they’ll hibernate through the colder months until the following spring. As temperatures warm, they’ll re-emerge from their nests seeking fresh pollen — and a mate!
Soon after mating, the males, having served their purpose, start to die off. The females, on the other hand, have their work cut out for them. Some fill pre-existing nests with their eggs. Others look for new nesting locations, drilling out new holes in new wood. The females will live long enough to lay their eggs and maybe even through most of the summer. As the females begin to bore new holes, you'll see unsightly yellow and green carpenter bee droppings in these areas — a major sign of a carpenter bee infestation. The adult male hovers around searching for a potential mate. They won’t hesitate to dive-bomb you while you're in “their” area. Thankfully, that’s all they do! The male carpenter bee can't sting because it does not even have a stinger. However, the males are there for one reason — to mate. So, if males are bothering you, it’s safe to assume that females (which can sting!) are nearby.
There are several ways to perform a carpenter bee treatment depending on several factors including client needs, areas of activity, and weather conditions. In the case, I decided that a dust application would be the most effective, and I applied a residual dust into the carpenter bees’ galleries where were laying eggs and hibernating. Any carpenter bees that come in contact with this dust will soon die. This single treatment will quickly resolve this homeowner’s carpenter bee problem.