Destructive Carpenter Bees Wreaking Havoc On Homeowners

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Destructive Carpenter Bees Wreaking Havoc On Homeowners

CREATED May 9, 2014
by Mark Bellinger

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - What can be more annoying than hundreds of bees buzzing around your home?

Officials with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture said this year they're receiving an unusual number of calls about carpenter bees. The insects are not just a nuisance. They can cause some real damage.

This is the time of the year when they become active around wood.

Stephanie Chester of Montgomery County said around her home they're a little too active.

"They are horrible, and I'm not exaggerating, when you walk out the door they're just, I call it dive bombing, but they're just all around your head,” said Chester.

The bees have been drilling holes in the wood of her porch and back deck. You can actually see the piles of sawdust. In some spots the damage is so bad, the porch is beginning to fall apart.

"And it's just ruined. There's no fixing to it,” said Chester.

Carpenter bees are easy to identify.

Department of Agriculture entomologist Steve Powell said unlike bumble bees which have hairy abdomens with yellow markings, carpenter bees have shiny black abdomens.

Only females can sting, but it rarely happens.

"Yeah, people are afraid because of the size and the speed, but they're not looking to attack. They may be looking to scare off perhaps, but it's very rare for a person to be stung. You'd almost have to grab one,” Powell said.

Powell said the department of agriculture has received more complaints than ever this year about damage to decks, patios and other wooden structures.

"They're able to drill into the wood. Once they drill the hole they go longitudinally down either one side and eventually the other side as well they're just trying to create space,” he added.

He said they're creating nests to lay eggs for the next generation, and in some rare cases, the damage can be so great it can compromise the integrity of the structure.

Chester said she and her husband will have to replace the deck and porch on their home.

"And we may find a lot more damage once we get in there. We don't know that but we may find more damage,” she said.

Chester said you can't blame all of the damage to her back deck on the bees, because it's pretty old.

However, she said they're responsible for most of it on the front porch.

So, what can you do?

Entomologists recommended using an insecticide like Sevin or Dursban to spray on the wood, but you have to reapply it every one or two weeks.

You can also puff insecticidal dust inside the holes of the wood. Then, after a few days you plug the hole. There are bee traps out there too.

Powell said they work, but they may attract more bees.

Carpenter bees prefer wood that is bare, weathered and unpainted.

The best way to keep them away is to paint all surfaces, especially ones that have a history of being attacked. Wood stains and treatments are less reliable.

Email: mbellinger@newschannel5.com