Carpenter Bees

Actual Size: ½ to 1”

Characteristics: Large, black, and yellow; shiny hairless abdomen

Legs: 6

Antennae: Yes

Habitat: They do not live in nests. Instead, females bore deep holes through softwood and deposit their eggs inside


  • Do not live in nests and colonies like other bees.
  • Do not eat wood, but cause damage by boring into decaying or weathered wood.
  • Male carpenter bees lack a stinger but are very aggressive.

Carpenter Bee Identification


What Do Carpenter Bees Look Like?

Carpenter bees are large, robust bees with a distinctive appearance. They typically measure around 1 to 1.5 inches in length. Carpenter bees have shiny, black abdomens with varying degrees of yellow or white markings on their thorax. Their bodies are robust and cylindrical, with a relatively hairless appearance compared to other bee species. Carpenter bees have a characteristic round head with large, compound eyes and strong mandibles. They also have two pairs of wings and six legs.

Unsure which type of stinging insect you are dealing with? We can help you to identify common bee, wasp & hornet species.

Signs of a Carpenter Bee Infestation

Signs of a carpenter bee infestation include:

  1. Round entry holes: Look for perfectly round entry holes about ½ inch in diameter in wooden structures such as eaves, siding, or decks.
  2. Sawdust piles: Carpenter bees push sawdust and debris out of their nests, creating small piles beneath entry holes.
  3. Sounds: You may hear a buzzing sound near wooden structures as carpenter bees fly in and out of their nests.
  4. Wood damage: Over time, carpenter bee activity can lead to visible damage and weakening of wooden structures.

Contact our wasp and bee exterminators if there is a sign of infestation


Habitat, Diet, Life Cycle & Stings


Where Do Carpenter Bees Live?

Carpenter bees are not social insects and create individual nests in trees, eaves, or sides of structures. Males and females overwinter in old nest tunnels and emerge in the spring to mate. The mated female selects a suitable piece of wood for nest construction while the males are nearby the nest sites. The female excavates a gallery using her mandibles, furnishes her nest with “bee bread” (a mixture of pollen and regurgitated nectar), deposits an egg, and closes the cell with chewed wood pulp. A carpenter bee infestation is usually detected by observing a large amount of sawdust and pollen on the ground below the area being chewed and excavated.

Diet of a Carpenter Bee

Carpenter bees primarily feed on nectar and pollen obtained from flowers. They are important pollinators and play a role in pollinating a wide range of flowering plants. Carpenter bees use their long proboscis to access nectar deep within flowers, while pollen collects on their bodies as they forage. While adults primarily feed on nectar for energy, they also collect pollen to provision their nests for their developing larvae.

Life Cycle of a Carpenter Bee

The life cycle of a carpenter bee begins when a mated female emerges from overwintering to establish a new nest in spring. She excavates a tunnel into wood, typically soft or weathered, to create a gallery for her offspring. Within this gallery, she constructs cells and provisions them with a mixture of pollen and nectar. She lays eggs on top of these provisions, and once hatched, the larvae feed on the stored food until fully developed. Larvae then pupate within the cells and emerge as adults later in the season. This process repeats annually.

Do Carpenter Bees Sting?

Female carpenter bees are rarely aggressive but will sting if provoked. If a person is stung by a carpenter bee and is allergic to bee venom, they should seek immediate medical attention.  Male carpenter bees do not possess a stinger but can be extremely defensive when protecting and defending their nest. Although carpenter bees can be helpful pollinators, they can cause significant damage to structures. Windowsills, wooden siding, decks, railings, outdoor furniture, and fences can be attacked. While the damage to wood from the excavation of individual carpenter bees may be slight, the activities of numerous bees over many years can result in considerable destruction. If you suspect a carpenter bee infestation, it is recommended to contact a bee control professional.

Are Carpenter Bees Dangerous?

Carpenter bees are generally not considered dangerous to humans. Although their nesting habits may cause structural damage to wooden structures, they do not pose a significant threat to human health or safety.

Carpenter Bee Prevention Tips

To prevent carpenter bee infestations:

  1. Paint or stain wooden structures to seal the wood and make it less attractive for nesting.
  2. Fill existing carpenter bee holes with wood putty or caulking to discourage re-infestation.
  3. Use hardwoods or treated lumber for outdoor structures, as they are less prone to carpenter bee damage.
  4. Hang carpenter bee traps near potential nesting sites to capture adult bees.
  5. Inspect wooden structures for signs of carpenter bee activity and address any issues promptly to prevent infestations.

Contact our professional wasp and bee exterminators to help with getting rid of Carpenter bees 



Are Carpenter Bees Good to Have Around?

Carpenter bees play a role in pollination, making them beneficial making them beneficial to the ecosystem. They are effective pollinators and contribute to the reproduction of many plant species.

Are Carpenter Bees Harmful?

Carpenter bees are generally not harmful to humans, although they can cause structural damage to properties, particularly wooden structures, through their nesting activities. 

Should I Get Rid of Carpenter Bees?

While carpenter bees play a role in pollination and are generally not harmful to humans, their nesting activities can cause structural damage. If their presence is causing significant damage or posing a nuisance, contact your local Bug Out team today to help protect your property.