If you live in North Carolina, Tennessee, or any state to the West of them, the advent of April means that it’s once again time to deal with carpenter bees. In today’s post, our Charlotte fence contractor explains what to do if you find these pesky critters burrowing into your wooden fence, or anywhere else on your property.
For North Carolinians and our western neighbors, carpenter bee season starts in March and lasts until late October. In the spring, adult bees emerge from their nests and start to look for a mate. In two or three weeks, most bees have found their special someone, and are ready to start building a nest and laying eggs. The female is the lead engineer in this endeavor. She will pick the spot and carve out the nest, typically expanding it between two to four feet per season! The male carpenter bee, meanwhile, will protect their staked-out territory from other carpenter bees and predators. If you have ever noticed a carpenter bee dive-bombing your head, it is doubtlessly a male protecting a nest.
The bees will continue building nests and producing young late into the summer, so if you’ve noticed increased bee action around your property, it’s best not to ignore it. Left unchecked, a single breeding pair of carpenter bees can wreak havoc on a wooden deck or fence.
There are about 500 species of carpenter bee. Almost all of them can be identified by the perfectly round tunnels they leave in wooden structures, usually with tiny piles of sawdust beneath them. Nest holes will also typically have a yellow ring of pollen around them, left by bees squeezing their way in. Female carpenter bees will create one nesting hole each, so if you happen to notice several holes, it means you have multiple bee nests.
If you don’t mind chemical insecticides, there are many over-the-counter products that can kill carpenter bees, including pyrethrum, boric acid, carbaryl (Sevin), or pretty much any spray labeled for flying insects. The best time to apply the insecticide is at night when the bees are resting, or in early spring while they are still hibernating. Apply the spray, foam, or powder directly into the hole, and watch out for an angry female bee that might emerge. By the next day, the bees should be dead, and you should be able to fill and paint over the tunnel. Since carpenter bees can return to the same nest year after year, it’s a good idea to plug up any holes you find with putty or caulking compound.
If you (or your spouse) finds carpenter bees to be kind of cute, and objects to engaging in bug chemical warfare, one easy, non-lethal way to deter them is simply applying a few thick coats of paint to your fence. Bees don’t like to chew through paint, and prefer untreated softwood, like pine. Wood stain isn’t as effective as paint, as bees will occasionally chew through it anyway, but it can still provide some degree of repellency.
If all else fails, you might consider totally replacing your wooden fence with a metal or vinyl model, which will decrease all your long-term maintenance costs by resisting sagging, warping, cracking, rotting, and of course, insect damage. If you’d like to learn more about Charlotte fence repair or replacement options, call James Fence and Gate today for a free estimate!