Carpenter Bees — Entomology — Penn State University


Skip to content Skip to navigation

Penn State University College of Agricultural Sciences Entomology

Search Text Search Type [INPUT]
only in current section

*Site Navigation*

· Home
· Majors & Minors
· Graduate Program
· Youth Programs
· Alumni & Friends
· Research
· Public

AgSci » Entomology » Insect Advice from Extension » Fact Sheets »
Carpenter Bees

* Info

Penn State Extension Logo


** Carpenter Bees **

Carpenter Bees

* Contents

*/Xylocopa virginica/

People who complain about bumblebees flying about under the eaves of their
homes are probably being annoyed by carpenter bees. Bumblebees are large
social bees 1/2 to 1 inch long, with black and yellow or, rarely, black and
orange body markings. Their nests are underground and they spend most of
their time traveling between the nest and the flowers from which they
obtain food.

Carpenter bees resemble bumblebees in both size and appearance, but are not
social insects. They construct their nests in trees or in frame buildings.
Most of the top of the abdomen of carpenter bees is without hairs and is
shiny black in color. By contrast, the abdomen of bumblebees is fully
clothed with hairs, many of them yellow in color. If you see a number of
large bees hovering near the eaves of the house or drilling in wood, you
have carpenter bees. There is only one species of the large carpenter bees,
/ Xylocopa virginica/, which is encountered in Pennsylvania.

carpenter-bees.jpgThe male bee is unable to sting. It is the male carpenter
bee, which is most often noticed. They hover in the vicinity of the nest
and will dart after any other flying insect that ventures into their
territory. A common behavior of the males is to approach


do carpenter bees sting

Carpenter Bees – How to Control Carpenter Bees


1. Education


· Insects
· Basics
· Bug Bios
· Living With Insects

· Share

Free Insects Newsletter![INPUT]

*Discuss* in my forum

** How to Control Carpenter Bees **

By Debbie Hadley, Guide

"Carpenter bee, Xylocopa virginica"

Carpenter bee, Xylocopa virginica

Carl Dennis, Auburn University,
*See More About*

· pest control
· pollinators
· bees

Carpenter bees can be a nuisance to homeowners, thanks to their habit of
tunneling into decks, porches, and other wood structures. Males behave
aggressively during their spring mating season, which can be a bit
unsettling if you're trying to relax on your deck. Your first impulse might
be to grab a can of bug spray to battle these large bees, but please don't.
Learn when control measures are needed and when they aren't, and how to
control carpenter bees effectively.

-What Are Carpenter Bees?-

People often mistake carpenter bees for bumblebees, which look quite
similar. Bumblebees (genus Bombus) nest in the ground, usually in abandoned
rodent nests, and live in social communities. Carpenter bees (genus
Xylocopa) are solitary bees that burrow into wood. If you see a bee that
looks like a bumblebee emerging from a hole in your porch, it's a carpenter
bee, not a bumblebee. You can differentiate the two by examining the dorsal
(upper) side of the abdomen. If it's shiny and hairless, it's a carpenter
bee. A bumblebee, by contrast, has a hairy abdomen.

Carpenter bees usually spend the cold months tucked inside their empty nest
tunnels, protected from freezing temperatures and winter weather. In
spring, they emerge ready to mate. The female carpenter bee excavates a
tunnel for her offspring. In each brood chamber, she stores food and lays


© 2005-2021