Have you ever been enjoying an afternoon on your deck and noticed a shiny, black bee hovering overhead? Maybe you came back the next day and noticed your new resident brought friends, neighbors, and distant relations. Then pretty soon you’ve got the national bee convention happening in your backyard.


They look like Bumblebees, but what is a Bumblebee doing hanging out on your deck or buzzing around your wooden fence when it should be finding flowers instead?   


Well, it’s not a Bumblebee at all. That social bee you find waiting to greet you outside your door or hovering at your shoulder while you’re grilling is actually a Carpenter bee. True to its name, this little critter will reconstruct your house, but not in a good way!


There’s no doubt you need to get rid of those pesky little friends, but before we get into that, let’s make sure you know what you’re looking at. Where Carpenter bees are destructive, Bumblebees are among the most important pollinators in the ecosystem. More than two-thirds of the world’s crops depend on pollination and Bumblebees are invaluable to that process! But Bumblebees and Carpenter bees look almost the same, so how do you combat the latter while protecting the former?

As you can see in the illustration above, the Carpenter bee has a shiny, black, hairless abdomen while the Bumblebee has yellow stripes and a thin layer of fuzz over its abdomen. Bumblebees are also a little larger. If you see multiple bees hovering near your house or shed, check the structure for perfectly round holes about the size of a dime. If you find some, chances are you have a Carpenter bee problem.


Carpenter bees prefer wood which is bare, old and weathered, or unpainted. An easy (and arguably one of the best) way to deter the bees is to paint all exposed wood surfaces. Staining or preserving the wood also works, although it is less effective than regular paint.

Here are some simple ways to combat Carpenter bees:

  • Choose an available pesticide. The laws for pesticides vary by state, so it’s difficult to suggest one specifically. Go to your local hardware store or greenhouse and ask what they recommend for Carpenter bees.

  • If you don’t want to use regular pesticides, natural, non-synthetic citrus, tea tree, or almond oil in a spray bottle of water works too. Douse the entrance to the holes thoroughly. These oils are irritating to bees and will discourage them from returning to their nests.

  • Stuff steel wool in the holes. Bees can chew through plastic wood, but they can’t get through steel wool. Once the bees have left, cover the hole in putty or caulk that matches the surrounding wood.

  • If you’re still battling Carpenter bees, it might be time to call an exterminator. Better to be safe than sorry!


It’s important to protect your house from pests in the summer months. Now that you’re equipped with the knowledge and tools you need, good luck!



BrickHouse Properties is a full-time real estate company servicing Central Kentucky and areas in Eastern Kentucky. For all your buying and selling needs, visit us at BrickhousePropertiesKY.com, email BrickHousePropertiesKY@gmail.com, or call 859-721-2440.