Keeping a lookout for signs of carpenter bees is important come spring if we have wood structures that are not protected with an oil based paint or polyurethane.

Carpenter bees look very similar to bumblebees, the difference being that bumblebees have yellow on their abdomen, while a carpenter bee has a very dark shining black abdomen.

The good thing to know is that carpenter bees are not aggressive.

The male, which can be recognized by the white spot on their head, doesn’t have a stinger and female carpenter bees, because of the fact that they are solitary bees, rarely sting.

flying carpenter bee

carpenter bee in flight

That being said, carpenter bees cause a lot of damage to wood structures, which is why we should be able to recognize signs of carpenter bees.


In April and May, female carpenter bees drill holes in wood structures or wood frames.

After they start burrowing in the wood, the carpenter bee makes a ninety degree turn and continues burrowing thus creating the gallery where the female carpenter bee will lay eggs.

Some of the signs of carpenter bees include:

  • perfect round holes of half an inch in diameter, in wood frame buildings near the eaves of a house
  • droppings in the form of stains on the wall near the holes or on objects directly underneath the holes
  • sawdust piles on objects underneath the holes, because of the fact that carpenter bees doesn’t eat the wood, it just drills in the wood to excavate the galleries
  • if the carpenter bee holes are not situated that high, you can hear the bees inside make a distinctive noise
  • a lot of carpenter bee activity near the holes
  • another sign of carpenter bees is the fact that male carpenter bees even if they cannot sting, are very territorial and will often come buzzing and hover really close to people in a confrontational manner
    signs of carpenter bees

    carpenter bee hole


It is important to identify the presence of carpenter bees, because even if at first the wood damage from a single hole is minor, future carpenter bees will continue using the hole each season.

Furthermore, the carpenter bees will continue tunneling to enlarge the gallery and also multiply the number of tunnels.

With that in mind, we should not forget that carpenter bees are very important pollinators and we should try to get rid of them without harming them.

The best weapon against carpenter bee infestation is prevention, which could be done by regularly painting or staining any bare wood.

Also, during daytime, when the carpenter bees leave the nest, you can try and block the nest entrance.

Providing a bee house can be an alternative to more destructive ways of getting of carpenter bees.

Another solution is spraying the holes with a mix of orange and tea tree oil, which will help you deter the carpenter bees without harming them.

Hopefully this article has provided you with some helpful tips about the most common signs of carpenter bees.

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