With the spring months right around the corner, many of us in Maryland are starting to prepare our gardens for the season ahead. However, with the warmer months comes the resurgence of flying, stinging insects, including carpenter bees.

While carpenter bees tend to be thought of as friendlier and less aggressive than wasps or hornets, these insects can still do a lot of property damage and become a headache for many homeowners.

When it comes to protecting yourself and your property from carpenter bees, there are a few things you should know about these insects. This guide will tell you everything you need to know about carpenter bees so you can avoid wood frass and stings!

How to Identify a Carpenter Bee

Carpenter bees have a similar appearance to large bumble bees and are often mistaken for them. However, carpenter bees have large, round bodies and smooth, black abdomens. Adult carpenter bees are typically about ½ to 1 inch long, with male carpenter bees having yellow faces and females having black faces.

Do Carpenter Bees Sting?

While carpenter bees can sting, they are less likely than other stinging insects to do so. Carpenter bees don’t tend to be aggressive and will typically only sting if provoked, such as trying to touch them or interfere with their nest. It is also worth noting that female carpenter bees are the only ones that sting, as their male counterparts are not equipped with stingers.

Carpenter Bees and Property Damage

Hence the name, carpenter bees bore into wooden structures when building their nests. Because of this, carpenter bees can cause a lot of damage to homes, decks, and other structures made of wood or bamboo.

Carpenter bees tend to prefer to build their nests in wood without paint or bark. Perhaps the most destructive element of carpenter bees is what they let in. Between moisture buildup from nests and woodpeckers that feast on carpenter bees, the bees don’t do as much damage as what they tend to invite in.

It’s pretty easy to spot carpenter bee damage as it will not be as extensive as termites or carpenter ants. Nevertheless, it’s ideal to protect wooden structures and furniture against these wood-damaging insects.

Are Carpenter Bees Beneficial for Gardens?

Carpenter bees are some of the most important pollinating insects, and their presence is typically a good sign for homeowners with gardens. 15% of agricultural crops are pollinated by bees, including carpenter bees, and they are especially beneficial when it comes to pollinating vegetables and large, open-faced flowers.

How to Protect Your Home and Family from Carpenter Bees

Since carpenter bees are not typically aggressive toward humans and do not sting unless provoked, there is no real reason to be worried for you or your family’s safety around these bees.

However, carpenter bees can cause a lot of damage to your home and other wooden structures, and there are measures you can take to prevent some of this damage from happening.

Carpenter bees prefer unpainted wood, so glazing your wooden structures with paint or varnish can effectively deter these bees. You can also try filling any holes in your wood with steel wool or caulk to prevent carpenter bees from reusing them.

Avoid pesticides when possible and work with an exterminator that uses organic pest controls that deter bees, but protect their colonies.


Do male carpenter bees sting?

Male carpenter bees do not sting, as they do not possess the stingers that female carpenter bees have. Instead, male carpenter bees are often seen hovering around their nests, protecting them from other flying insects.

Do carpenter bees return to the same nest every year?

Yes, carpenter bees do return to the same nest each year and will typically use the same holes instead of creating new ones. They are believed to do this because they are looking for the easiest possible place to lay their eggs, and nests that have been previously constructed provide that.

Are there natural predators of carpenter bees?

There are several natural predators of carpenter bees, with birds being some of the most common. Woodpeckers are known to eat carpenter bees, as well as several other types of birds and even some predatory flies, such as tiger bee flies.