Often mistaken for bumble bees, carpenter bees are commonly found in Spring and early Summer, buzzing around eaves and around wooden porch railings. Getting their name from their habit of boring holes into wood to create nests for reproduction, carpenter bees are known around the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill-Cary region to cause substantial damage to untreated wood, especially if the insects go unchecked for long periods of time.
    Size: up to 1 in.
    Color: Mostly black with some yellow markings; males have a white dot on their heads
    Body Structure: Characterized by smooth, hairless abdomen. Females have stingers whereas males do not.
    Characteristics: The life cycle of the carpenter bee is fairly brief, with eggs hatching a few days after being lain and reaching full maturity within 5-7 weeks. Females deposit a ball of pollen near their eggs, providing a source of nourishment for the offspring. Unlike some other bees, carpenter bees are not social insects.
    Habitat/Behavior: As mentioned above, carpenter bees tend to be found hovering around untreated wood, carving out tunnels to lay their eggs. While the bees do not consume wood, the insects can cause repeat damage by returning to the same tunnels year after year. Carpenter bees are not necessarily aggressive, but males in particular will vehemently defend their nests, even though males are incapable of stinging aggressors. In addition to holes bored in untreated wood, damage from carpenter bees is often characterized by frass, or fecal matter, found around the openings.
    Commonly Active: Spring and early summer
    Prevention/Treatment: Carpenter bees can cause repeat damage if left untreated. Additionally, other problematic and destructive pests, like carpenter ants, can invade holes bored by carpenter bees, causing additional structural harm. It often is difficult to discern carpenter bees from bumble bees. If you believe carpenter bees have invaded your home, you should contact a pest control professional to positively identify the species and treat for the insects accordingly.