Adult body length of a carperter bee is about 1/2″ to 1″ (12.5 – 25 mm); robust in form. They resemble bumble bees but with the top surface of the abdomen largely bare and shining. Most common eastern species X. virginica closely resembles a bumble bee except the abdomen is black and shiny. The male has a pale yellow to cream colored marking on the face, whereas, the female’s face is black. Take a look at the picture of a carpenter bee on the page and compare it to a bumble bee.
Places Most Commonly Found:
Carpenter bees are not social insects and do not live in nest or colonies. The mated female may either reuse an old gallery, bore an entirely new one or extend a gallery from an existing opening. The female typically bores a circular hole (same diameter as her body) straight into the wood across the wood grain for a distance equal to her body length. Then the gallery takes a right angle turn, usually with the grain of the wood and parallel to the outer longitudinal surfaces. New galleries average 4″ to 6″ (10 – 15 cm) long but galleries developed/used by several bees may extend 10 feet (3 m). The female provisions each gallery cell starting at the closed end with a mass of pollen and regurgitated nectar upon which she lays a single egg. This portion of the the gallery is then sealed off with a chewed wood-pulp plug, making a chamber or cell. This process is repeated until a linear series of 5 – 6 cells is completed, about 1 cell per day. Galleries will be created in unpainted or stained wood. Painted wood is rarely used.
Most Active Period:
The adults overwinter, typically in abandoned nest tunnels. In the spring, the survivors emerge and feed on nectar. Mating begins and extends into nest construction time. Male carpenter bees will be territorial and will become aggressive when humans approach, sometimes hovering a short distance in front of the face or buzzing one’s head. Since males have no stinger, these actions are merely show. However, the female does have a stinger which is rarely used. Most activity occurs from late spring to early fall. Carpenter Bee removal is not normally necessary unless they become a nuisance.
Difficulty of Control:
Moderate to control. Multiple applications are often necessary to bring the population under complete control. Sometimes carpenter bee traps work but in time the population may need a more aggressive treatment plan.