Woodpeckers, termites, and carpenter bees – what do these species have in common? They all make an impact on wood! Whether it’s a tree trunk, wood pile, or your home’s beautiful sturdy deck, these species are accustomed to digging into wood surfaces. For woodpeckers and termites, however, the main purpose is for sustenance; finding bugs in the wood for the former, and consuming wood itself for the latter.

The aptly named carpenter bee is unique due to the fact that it actually burrows into hard plant materials – wood in particular – to create a nest. The problem is, if carpenter bees attempt to create their home using materials from yours, there’s a good chance they will become a real threat to your living space.

The Carpenter Bee’s Threat

They may not be a threat in the way you think of bees and wasps, however, as carpenter bees aren’t particularly aggressive toward humans. In fact, male carpenter bees can’t actually sting, while their female counterparts are able to do so, but rarely exercise the ability. But despite their lack of physical aggression, carpenter bees can cause danger due to the damage they inflict on your property if left to their own devices.

If carpenter bees begin to burrow in wooden structures on your property, they’ll contribute to gradual structural weakening and impending damage. Naturally, if the bees are left alone, this repeated damage can lead to weak and dangerous conditions over time. Think of decks built upon a foundation of wood, or a set of wooden stairs. All it takes is a step in a weakened area to injure yourself with cracked wood or even a fall. Now, of course, this amount of damage takes time, so it’s important to deal with carpenter bees straight away. This means you’ll need to know how to spot them, too.

Spotting a Carpenter Bee

There are two main categories, or genera, of carpenter bees: Xylocopa and Ceratina. Xylocopa contains the larger of the two at 12 to 25 millimetres in length. These are also the kind you’ll most likely find around your property, and they appear similar to bumble bees. Since it’s best to avoid terminating bumble bees for the health of our ecosystems, you’ll want to understand the distinguishing features of carpenter bees. Naturally, an obvious clue would be holes in wooden surfaces with yellow pollen residue around the entrance due to a carpenter bee’s diet. Physically, both males and females still have yellow hairs on their bodies, they are not quite as vibrant as those of the common bumble bee. This leads to a metallic appearance which is distinct compared to other species. Also, note that carpenter bees are solitary and do not form colonies in the way bumblebees do.


If you’re a homeowner procrastinating on the completion of your deck, you’ll definitely want to get in gear and stain away. A proper wood finish often discourages carpenter bee excavation. If holes have already appeared, you can try to avoid further damage by stuffing the entrances with steel wool.

If you’ve noticed carpenter bees making a home out of yours, call our pest control experts at Action Pest so we can ensure the safety of your property! Get in touch with our experts today.