Build a Carpenter Bee Trap

How to Build a Carpenter Bee Trap

By Erin Huffstetler | 04/19/2017 | 243 Comments
This post may contain affiliate links. View our disclosure.

I’ve done a lot to attract bees to my garden – planting flowers that they like, building them houses, etc. But carpenter bees? I’m not a fan. They do too much damage to our house, tree house and swing set each year for me to be on good terms with them. I’ve read article after article that says they only go after non-treated, rotting wood, but that hasn’t been my experience at all.

Carpenter Bee Damage

See those holes? They were made by carpenter bees. That’s pressure treated lumber, and they started boring holes in it as soon as we finished building our tree house. They continue to bore new holes in it every spring.

When we built a new roof overhang over the basement a couple years ago, they bored holes through the new cedar supports, before we had a chance to finish them, and they continued to bore holes through them even after we stained them. They’re destructive creatures, I tell you.

So, several years back, my husband and I decided to build some carpenter bee traps to combat the problem. After a ton of research, we came up with our own design, and when we tested them, we couldn’t believe how well they worked.

Here’s a video of one of our carpenter bee traps in action.

Seeing all those carpenter bees in the jar is really satisfying. If you’d like to put these traps to work in your yard, just follow the steps below to build your own, or order some from our shop.

How to Make a Carpenter Bee Trap

Please note that these plans are copyrighted. You may use them to build carpenter bee traps for your own use, but they may not be used to make and sell carpenter bee traps commercially.

Tools Needed to Build a Carpenter Bee Trap

Tools Needed:

Circular saw (or a hand saw)
1/2″ wood bit
7/8″ wood bit
1/2″ metal bit
Tape measure
Screw driver

Supplies Needed to Build a Carpenter Bee Trap

Materials Needed:

4×4 post (A scrap of one is fine. You just need seven inches.)
(1)Mason jar (half pint or a regular mouth pint)
(1)Screw eye
Wood screws

What You Do:

Mark Your Angle

Step 1: Measure seven inches up from the end of your 4×4. Then, draw a 45-degree angle that radiates down from this point.

Cut Your Angle

Step 2: Use a circular saw or a hand saw to cut the angle that you just marked.

Cut 4x4

This will leave you with a block of wood that is seven-inches tall in the back and four-inches tall in the front.

Drill a Hole through the Center of the 4x4

Step 3: Flip your 4×4 piece over, so that the flat bottom is facing up, and mark its center. Then, drill a 7/8-inch hole at the center point that is approximately 4-inches deep. Take care to keep your hole straight.

Drill Holes at a 45 Degree Angle

Step 4: Now, mark the location of your entry holes on the four sides of your block. Each hole should be two inches from the bottom and one and three-quarter inches from each side. Use your 1/2-inch wood bit to make your holes at an upward 45-degree angle. Continue drilling until your hole connects with the hole that you drilled from the bottom. Then, repeat with the remaining holes.

Drilled Holes

Here’s what your block should look like at this point.

Punch Holes in Your Jar Lid

Step 5: Unscrew the lid from your jar, and lay it on a piece of scrap lumber or a heavy metal plate. Find the center of your lid and mark it. Then, divide the distance between the center hole and the lip to find and mark the spots that you’ll use to screw the jar to the trap. Use a punch to make your holes.

Drill a Hole Through the Center of the Jar Lid

Step 6: Use a 1/2-inch metal bit to make the center hole larger. Leave the other holes as is.

Screw the Lid onto the Base of the Trap

Step 7: Stick the lid back inside its ring, and screw the lid onto the bottom of your trap, taking care to make sure the 1/2-inch hole on your lid lines up with the 7/8-inch hole at the base of your trap.

Finished Carpenter Bee Trap

Step 8: Add a screw eye to the top of your trap and hang.

Carpenter Bee in Trap

How the Trap Works:

Carpenter bees discover one of the outer holes and crawl inside it to lay eggs. Once inside, the 45-degree tunnel casts their entry point in the shadows. They see light coming up from the hole at the base of the trap, and move towards it, assuming it’s the exit. Instead of finding their way out, they find themselves in the jar, and can’t figure out how to get back out. Victory!

We hang our traps where we’re seeing carpenter bee activity. Then, we treat the holes they’ve bored with Spectracide Termite Killing Foam (it’s formulated for carpenter bees, too). Afterwards, we fill the holes in with caulk or wooden dowels. If we’re short on time, we just cram a stick up the holes until we have time to make a more permanent fix. But it’s definitely important to block the holes right away because it forces the bees, who weren’t in their nests when you sprayed, to go in search of new nesting sites, and it also kills the larvae they’ve laid, so you don’t have more bees hatching out next year. Carpenter bees will build their nests in existing holes, if they can find them, so if you have a trap full of carpenter bee-sized holes hanging near by, they’re likely to crawl inside to check it out, and when they do, you’ll have them trapped.

Note: Spectracide now also sells Carpenter Bee and Ground Nesting Yellow Jacket Killer Foam. It has the same active ingredients as the termite foam, so use whichever one you’re able to find.

Carpenter Bee Trap

If you don’t have the time or tools to make your own carpenter bee traps, order some from our shop. We aim to ship the same day during carpenter bee season because we know you want those bees gone!

See Also:

print this page


    • I built one of these but my family and I accidentally trapped ourselves in it and we all died. (Sigh)

    • Erin, fantastic trap!
      I have been fighting these bees since I bought my new home, and finally had enough! I built two traps from a piece of 4×4 I had laying around and two jelly jars! Hung them up Sunday afternoon… by Sunday night I had one trapped and when I came home from work Monday I had two trapped in each jar!
      So now what? Am I missing something? How do we exterminate them now? Afraid to put poison in the jar for fear it the scent will prevent any other bees from entering.
      I will bee making more of these traps, once I know how to exterminate the trapped…

      • Hi Ralph,

        Glad the traps are working well for you 🙂 We don’t do anything to exterminate ours. Once they’re trapped, they release a pheromone that attracts more. So, keeping them alive will help you to trap carpenter bees faster.

        • I made one of your traps and have nearly a dozen in the jar….I wait till they die, unscrew the jar and dispose of the bees…..Great product!

    • The angled top allows room for the angled holes that you drill and helps with rain run off. It’s not absolutely essential, though. You could always make the trap a bit longer (to accommodate the drilled holes) and then go with a flat top.

    • It also prevents light from entering giving the bee ability to go to it and fly back out. The only light a bee should see is the entry to the jar or bottle.

    • Seems to me that, since no holes are drilled into the angled top and the angled holes only go in so far, the angle at the top is purely aesthetic lol. I bet it would work the same flat, chamfered, pyramid topped, etc.

      • The angled top will make the trap last much longer because it helps shed rainwater resulting in less checking, cracking, and splitting of the wood.

      • I made mine out of a section of old fence post & kept the top flat, for my own safety reasons (I never took shop & I like my fingers attached!!) Even with my very limited knowledge of power tools, I was able to build a working model & have already caught 3 of them lil buggers!!!

  1. I built four of these this morning in about an hour. Just a few things that I came across for people that may build some of these. They work best if under the eave of a building. If you’re gonna hang them on a deck railing or out in the opening, it will help bunches if you include a small roof on them. On mine I just cut a 45 angle just like the other side to form a peak. I then took some scrap boards that I had and cut two pieces 8 1/2″ X 5 1/2″. I used small brad nails to put them on and for good measure and to help protect them, I put on a couple coats of polyurethane just on the top. What the top does is to create an eave if you will so it blocks out the sunlight that will get in the holes. There are two ides that will still let a little bit of light in but it does have a 2 1/2″ overhang on those sides. I then just put me a cup hook in the center top and hung them with some sash chain. Thanks for giving me this great idea.

    • They work great. I posted a comment today that my husband used some old cedar limbs to make them. He only puts one hole in the side of the limb instead of all the way around. He doesn’t use the jar flat but screws the band directly to the bottom of the log then screws the jar onto that. Also we put about 3″ water in the jar.

  2. I have had a couple of these for several years. They do catch a LOT of the carpenter bees, but they don’t catch them ALL.

    • Will this trap also attract the good bees, IE Honey Bees: Because I don’t want to kill them. We need them.

      • Nope. You’d have to have some sort of bait in the traps to attract honey bees. This will just catch carpenter bees.

        • Incorrect. They are actually just pollen thieves as they feed their young with it in their colony. Most of what I have read trying to learn how best to eliminate them without hurting any good pollinators agree as well. Keep reading. You’ll find the same info.

    • My Mom has carpenter bees boring into her garage. How the heck do you stop them? We unloaded 4 different wasp/bee sprays on them last year and they didn’t even slow down. I will be making some of these traps to hang around her house but what do I do about the ones already established?

      • Hi Teri, We’ve actually found that termite spray (Spectracide makes one) works better on carpenter bees than bee/wasp spray. I’d recommend spraying the inside of any existing holes to kill the bee and the eggs. Then, go ahead and fill the hole. A lot of times, we’ll just put a stick up the hole until we have time to get around to filling it. It keeps another bee from taking over the hole. Aside from that, swatting them with a tennis racket can help to get the numbers down, and these traps do the same. You won’t ever catch all of them, but for every one that you do, you’re eliminating hundreds of baby bees next year. Best of luck. I know it’s a frustrating problem.

      • If you need to kill them fast spray wd40 in the hole they go in. It works better then the drying agents.

        • We have also used WD40 also. We had tried all kinds of sprays and that was the only thing we found that worked. Waited until the evening when they would be in their holes and then spray.

      • Using wasp spray. You wait until one lands and is walking into there hole. Then spray. Takes about 5 minutes for them to come back. Then spray one again. Then I put a wood screw at an angle in the hole. I only used 2 cans this summer. But know I’ll try this trap. My poor friend has a wood home, the whole house buzzes.

      • WD40 I read this. Take the red nozzle usually taped to side of the can. Stick the nozzel into the hole and spray a generous amount into the hole. This will kill the bee if he is in there. This also kills the larva and the bee if it isn’t in there won’t come back.

      • Paint is effective in preventing carpenter bees from drilling into wood. I’ve seen them drill into pressure treated lumber, especially PT lumber that has dried out, but I painted ALL the wood in my pole barn before I put the tin on it & I’ve had no problem with Carpenter bees even though they are destroying an older barn nearby.

      • WD-40 kills carpenter bees on contact. I spray it into the holes under the deck also. I will be making a couple of these traps though. Thanks Erin..

      • Hi Tim, if you made one and you haven’t trapped any yet, take a look at your holes to make sure they all connect properly, and that you don’t have any bees stuck in there. If everything seems to be in order, you may want to move your trap to a different location. I recommend sticking it where you’re seeing the most bee activity. Aside from that, give it a little time. Once you catch the first, the pheromones the bee puts off will attract more. I stuck a new trap out yesterday, and we had three bees in the trap within the hour.

        • Built 5, put them out under the edge of our deck. Within a week I caught 2 in a trap where I had seen lots of their activity. Found some old 4X4 Cedar posts today and built 8 more for my friends.

          • That’s great. I’m glad their working for you. We’ve been building them out of cedar, too. It’s one of their favorite woods.

  3. I have a terrible problem with picnic ants. I’ve sprayed, dusted, even had Terminex treat the house for a year; we still have them. what do you suggest?

    • Hi Gary,

      Funny you should ask. We’ve been dealing with ants too, and my regular methods of dealing with them haven’t been working, so I have two new plans of attack that I will be putting into place. I should have the first one implemented today, and if so, I’ll post a how-to tomorrow.

      • Use Boric acid place in bottle caps place in cabinets under sinks or where ever you see them . They take it to the nest and kills them all.

        • use something that works and is safer than boric acid. use FOOD GRADE diatomacious earth. it sticks to exoskeleton insects and acts like glass to them and cuts them up and causes them to dry out. it MUST BE FOOD GRADE so as to not cause someone or something ( pets. infants, etc) to get sick and be rushed to the E.R. i have strays that I feed, and ants were getting in their food, and eventually made their way into my home. until I used this. try it, it TRULY WORKS GREAT!

          • diatomacious earth is what chemicals use to be packed in. I guess this is if the bottle breaks the material will soak it up. It was known a faumiculite…brown with flakes of mika in it i think. Im suprised they have not come out with a carpentar bee trap. You should patent your design.
            Thanks for the info. This stuff is very good in compose piles also.

      • Use cornmeal on the ants. They take the cornmeal back to the nest, eat it and they die because it swells inside of them. Use it in my flower beds all the time.

          • Hi Sherrie, the homemade ant bait traps that I’ve shared would probably take care of them, but since fire ants can be dangerous, I’m usually a little more aggressive in my approach. Pouring vinegar over their ant hill/mound is a quick fix.

      • Use baby powder. Its cheap and it works. They take it back to their ant farm and the corn starch in the powder kills em. Find the anthill and sprinkle a cirle around it, you can also lay some down on their matching path.

      • If you can watch and see where their trail is (where they’re coming in/going out), kill all of the ants you see then wipe/scrub the trail well with straight vinegar, both inside and outside. Sprinkle a line of Cinnamon across the threshold, of a doorway is their entry; across the windowsill if it’s a window. Ant lay a trail that they, and their friends follow so they can go back and forth without losing their way. Vinegar disrupts that trail. Ant don’t cross Cinnamon. It’s great to mix with the sand in a sandbox to keep Ant out too.

        • I can second the cinnamon block with ants. One day black ants swarmed my boyfriends front porch and foyer. Since I could not find the Safer Ant granules immediately( since we have stupid house cats) I was able to halt the invasion with a band of cinnamon sprinkled across the threshold. I swept all of the insects from inside the house, sprayed and wiped all of their paths with vinegar and put the cinnamon across as an additional barrier to keep them from finding any hidden paths. Worked like a charm!

    • Boil 1 1/2 cups of water, dissolve 1/2 cup sugar and 1 1/2 tablespoons of Borax in it. Soak a cotton ball in it and place them along their trail. They are attracted to the sweet sugar water and the borax kills them. They carry the mixture back to their nest to infect the remaining colony. We use this every spring and it works wonders.

    • If you want to keep them out of your pet’s food dish, this won’t kill the ants OR your pet, but, it will keep ants from getting into the bowl. Take plain old white chalkboard chalk, draw a heavy, heavy ring around the bowls ( out a few inches). Don’t leave any part of the circle without a good marking of chalk. Ants won’t cross over it.

    • I learned in Florida with fire ants that if you know where the nest is use instant (dry) grits or cream of wheat. A sprinkle neat a nest after the dew drys will kill the whole nest by killing the queen. Kinda like instant rice and birds. (I hate this one) The boric acid can hurt kids or pets so be careful. I get a food grade diatomaceous earth for inside the house (and outside) and dust around windows, doors and where any pipes come through the wall or floor. This is safe to eat but not breath the fine dust.

      • I use DE around the garage door openings. I sprinkled a pile where ever I could see light. The spiders have to walk through it. I find dead spiders all over my garage now. Much better then using those sticky things that the pesticide companies use. I hate the sticky boxes because they kill the lizards too.

      • I saw a TV show a long time ago by that guy that made all the homemade “tonics” for use in the yard, and he said human urine drives ants away. Tried it, and it works. Anytime ants start showing up in the yard, hit ’em with that. They move out pretty quick. Ain’t had an ant problem in the yard in 15 years. And it’s FREE !

    • This works every time. Got borax laundry detergent. It is in a mostly white box with mules on it. Mix 50 50 with powered sugar. They are both white powder. Ants will swarm over it. They take it home and in about 5 days you will be down to scragglers and in a total of 7-10 days they will be gone. Has to be powered sugar as it is very close to Tha consistency of powdered sugar.

    • 25 yrs ago I was told by gentleman in Myrle Beach SC, to use instant grits around the ant hills, without disturbing their traffic. Well, it worked. I have use grits ever since, in Germany, Colorado & now in Georgia. It is safe around kids, pets.

  4. So just a thought save someones hands maybe drill the bottom hole before cutting the top to a 45 so someone dont slip and run a drill bit into themselves….

    • Hi Wade, The top of the trap is cut at a 45-degree angle to help it shed rainwater, so it’s not strictly necessary.

  5. For ants, make a mixture of 1 part powdered sugar & 1 part Borax. Put a small amt in some small fairly flat containers. You can use lids from margarine tubs. Place these where your pets cannot get them, such as behind furniture or your refrigerator. You can also sprinkle it around the outside of your house to prevent more ants from entering. They are attracted to the sugar and take the Borax back to the nest where all of the ants will be effected.

  6. Why not paint your bare wood? Read the following:

    Some people consider carpenter bees pests because they drill holes or nest in wooden structures. However, their contribution to pollination far outweighs any damage to structures, according to native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis. Unlike the eastern carpenter bee species, which can be damaging to wooden structures, our Central Valley carpenter bees choose softer substrates for their nests such as pithy stems of plants, old logs, and untreated redwood. Using untreated, unpainted redwood for arbors, fences and patio or lawn furniture in this area means learning to share with carpenter bees.

      • They are excellent pollinators of common garden plants such as tomatoes; apparently the wood needs to be painted with an oil-based paint or sealed with polyurethane; treated wood isn’t sufficient.

        “Unlike the bumble bee that typically builds colonies in the ground, the carpenter bee is a solitary bee preferring to live and nest alone in wood tunnels. Carpenter bees do not consume wood, but their tunneling can be destructive to softwoods and hardwoods alike. Under normal conditions they are not very destructive; however, if several generations of carpenter bees have been tunneling in the same area, extensive damage is possible.

        “Weathered woods are a common target of carpenter bees; thus, they are often found tunneling into fence posts, lawn furniture, the roof and eaves of buildings, decks, window shutters, wood shingles and siding.

        “To deter this behavior, keep exposed wood surfaces, including nail holes and saw cuts, coated with polyurethane or oil-base paint. Consider using non-wood building materials, such as vinyl siding, to avoid possible damage by carpenter bees. If tunnel entrances are found in buildings, seal tunnel entrances immediately with caulk.”

    • Painting doesn’t help. As an avid gardener I get they are important but they are destroying my home and have ran off all my hummingbirds.

  7. I had three carpenter bee traps made last year, and none of them worked. Should I have uses treated wood?

    • Bummer. I don’t think it’s necessary to use treated wood. I just used that because I had some on hand (and knew they were already making holes in pressure treated lumber in my yard). Might be worth moving your traps to a different location to see if you have more luck attracting them.

  8. Hi, I haven’t had any carpenter bees until this year right as I finished construction on my very expensive gazebo. I noticed today as I was staining it that a carpenter bee was starting a hole in one of the 4×4 posts that I hadn’t yet stained. I quickly looked up DIY traps and having lots of scrap 4×4 I built this in like 5 minutes. I hung it near the post the bee was trying to bore into and stained the post. It kept flying around the post but had no interest in the trap. I also plan on building a few more of different designs so I can have different options for the bees to use. My only question is how long did it take you to catch your first bee?

    • Ugh! I feel your pain. I had the same thing happen to a new roof overhang that we built a few years ago. We caught our first carpenter bee within a couple days. Since then, we’ve continued to catch carpenter bees on a regular basis. Hope you have your first catch soon.

  9. Would have been a heck of a lot easier to drill that 7/8″ hole BEFORE cutting the piece on an angle…

    • Hi Alice, I’m afraid I don’t have a printable version of the plans at this time. I’ll give it some thought.

  10. Ha – I have the ultimate Carpenter Bee remover – a $7 Badminton racket from Dicks, I got 30+ of them in the last week…

      • My son and I both use tennis rackets. If the bee is up high you throw a wood chip up by the bee. As the wood chip falls the bees follow after it. I guess because they feel its a threat. As the bee comes down we whack it. We must have gotten 25-30 bees in a hour. After doing this for about three days we have not seen anymore.

        • Yep, they don’t always choose the most convenient spots. I’ve had to climb up on a ladder many times to treat their nesting holes. I always hang a trap when I’m up there. Makes a big difference.

    • Haha, I bought one from Harbor freight which has a battery in it. Handle is almost too short but it still works well. I’m going to build several of those traps. Thanks for the info.

  11. When I see the holes for the bees I spray the hole with WD-40. It coats the inside of the hole and the bees get covered in the oil. The can not breathe as their bodies are now covered in WD-40.They slide out dead. To fill in the hole I use the wire nuts to fit the hole. Trim to even and fill the little hole left.

    • We have a similar approach. We spray the inside of carpenter bee holes with bee/wasp spray. This kills the bee and any eggs. Then, we place sticks in the holes until the carpenter bees are done for the year. At that point, we remove the sticks, and fill the holes with wood filler. Happily, since hanging our carpenter bee traps, we’ve had far fewer holes to deal with.

      • Steel Wool was recommended to me. It stops them from going back in, but will allow them to push it out rather than boring out in a different location.

  12. This is the best idea I have seen to rid these pest. The underneath of my deck is starting to look like Swiss cheese also. Thank You!! Frank

  13. They don’t work well! 2 bees in “trap” thousands in the garage. Not highly effective at all.

    • Hi Joe,

      If you’re dealing with a major infestation (you mentioned thousands of bees), you may need to first go after them with wasp spray to get the population down. Then, switch over to using the traps once things are more under control.

  14. I’ve been playing “baseball” with these little bastards for years. You’d be surprised how far they go after you whack them. But lately….we’ve stepped it up a notch. My son’s Badmitten ( might be misspelled) racquet has become the “ultimate terminator”. Light….Swift….Super accurate, why I might even patent it. “It Slices….It Dices… Obliterates them !!! They don’t come back for more, because they’re in pieces. Try your dollar store…LOL.

  15. I’ve always just used wood putty in the first hole the bees have drilled and they have never come back…. they don’t like wood putty… Never had a problem since.

  16. Funny I was just looking out my window at my arbor and was irritated they are boring into it and I just ran acrossed this article my niece posted
    Here on facebook, coincidence?
    My arbor is painted with good paint and they bored right in it and yes the wood is treated.
    My back deck which is treated is also suffering. I tried wd 40 and seems to do no good. Iam gonna build one of these traps tomorrow with hope.
    These suckers are getting on my nerves. Thanks for the article.
    Brian~Ironton Ohio

  17. lol. this is a great idea. so far the only thing we have found to get rid of them is a badminton racket, good aim and a hefty stomp of the foot.

  18. So, it a slow cruel way to kill a pest. I don’t disagree that they’re a destructive pest. How about adding some insecticide in the jar so once they’re trapped they die quickly instead of a slow painful death of starving or on hot sunny days baking to death. You may consider them a pest but they do feel pain too. I wouldn’t want to starve or cook to death myself.

    • Hi J,

      You could add a little bit of diatomaceous earth to the bottom of the jar. That would kill them a lot faster.

    • Interesting idea, but I don’t see any data to support your theory that they feel pain. Why do some people insist on placing human characteristics on other animals/insects/things?

  19. Might I suggest moving Step 3 to Step 1? That will give you greater stability when drilling the vertical hole. It will require minor re-wording of Steps 1 and 2 (which will become Steps 2 and 3), along the lines of “starting at the end opposite the vertical hole” or something. I think it would be hard to balance the post on the point created by the 45° angle and still drill a straight hole; this would make that much easier.

  20. Would it be more humane to ALSO build sacrificial structures in the garden away from the house to lure them away? Carpenter bees are pollinators also.

  21. I had a woodpecker destroy a couple of boards in my pole barn going after carpenter bees in the wood. I’ll definitely be making some of these!

  22. I might give this a shot…we’ve enjoyed the baseball method in the past but used the electric fly swatter but now our two year old thinks she can swing at ANY bee…not a good idea for her.

  23. Your design is clever and interesting. If you say it works, I believe it. Ive been battling carpenter bees for over 20 years. Its been my experience the absolute BEST way to get rid of them is going after them with a badminton racket. Sounds crazy, I know. It works. Ive actually gone up on the roof after them and get a small degree of satisfaction swatting them to their graves. Nasty little creatures that do incredible damage.

    • Hi Sal,

      Several different bees and wasps make their nests in the ground, so a good first step would be to figure out what kind of bees/wasps you’re dealing with. You may have bumble bees, yellow jackets (a type of wasp) or even a species of solitary bee. If you see a bunch of small individual holes in the ground, you’re probably dealing with solitary bees (they live alone). They won’t sting unless you step on them or do something to make them feel really threatened, so you can usually just leave them where they are. They’re great pollinators, so you’ll be helping your garden if you do. Bumble bees would also be good to leave in place. They nest together, but are rarely aggressive. Like the solitary bees, you’d have to step on their nest, or do something equally upsetting to them to be stung. Yellow jackets (a type of wasp), are a different story, however. They can be incredibly aggressive if you get near their nest. We had a big nest of them at our cabin last summer that I found when I was bush hogging. It was close to our well, so we didn’t want to use gas or any chemical that could affect our water (and honestly, I’m not keen on solutions that are bad for the environment anyway). My husband and I did some research, and we chose to flood out their nest. We waited until after dusk (when they were home for the night and at their calmest); then, we covered the entrances/exits of their nest with a piece of window screen, and used a hose to flood their nest. The window screen kept them from being able to fly out and possibly sting us, but we also had a couple cans of wasp spray ready just in case. Afterwards, we monitored the nest for a few days to make sure we’d gotten them all.

      • use 7 dust on the entrance or nest They will take it in and kill the hole nest over night. we did this with 3 nest in the walls of the house and 1 in the foundation. We used 1/2 inch PVC and a funnel to load it up good. Then used compressed air at one end of pvc to reach the holes from a safer distance. Next day No BEES !!

    • I saw add in paper. Someone came out for free. They vacuum them out of ground. They also put bag around wasp nest in tree and did same thing.

  24. Ours took 3 days to catch one. Yes, just 1!( We made two traps.) We took one down and began checking the side holes only to discover a trapped bee! We poked at it and it backed it way out and flew away. We then saw another bee was trapped in the same hole in front of the previous bee! We pushed it on in and it fell into the container. We feel the 1/2 inch wood bit maybe a little small. After my husband made the holes bigger, more bees are venturing in!

    • Hi Lori, The bees actually release a pheromone when they’re trapped, which attracts more bees. So once you’ve catch one, you’re off and running.

  25. I have had 2 bee traps up for 2 weeks have taken around 25 Carpenter Bee prisoners they are hanging in my garage.

  26. Poor bees, this makes me sad. With bees in decline we should really be doing everything we can to keep bees alive. Even carpenter bees pollinate. We have them, but bang the wood they are in with a hammer til they fly out and then fill the hole. They usually find someplace else to go after that. Maybe create a carpenter bee house instead of a trap.

  27. I’ve used a trap like this but hollow and made of boards and caught 25 bees so far. Also have used the badminton racket (25cents at yardsale) with great satisfaction but I work and don’t have enough time. For yellowjackets, I take my shop vac with 6 feet of wand and just place the tip at the hive entrance – satisfaction guaranteed as they enter or leave and “thwop”. In an hour they’re gone.

  28. It took me a while to figure the badminton racket method but I came to it as the best solution, too. This was only after hearing the male carpenter bees (with white spot between the eyes) lack stingers do it’s a safe bet you can’t get stung. I will be building a couple of these traps though. These bees and wasps have been everywhere here in NW Florida the past few years! I have also read and tried successfully just filling the holes in after dark when the females should be back. Prior to this, using an expanding foam pesticide (Lowes carries it) should kill eggs laid for the next generation. Even without the pesticide, the bees can’t get out and die in the holes. Tell-tale signs of a hole are the droppings from the hole. Another crazy method to finding them is using a stethoscope; you can hear them just after sunset scraping the wood.

  29. My dad has one that he made and it works great he’s been
    using it since last summer!!! I’m gonna get him to make me one!!

  30. So, how much to make me 3 or 4 of these? 🙂 I have a log-style second house in Adams County Ohio and could REALLY use these, but I am not the handy type. Really, I would gladly buy some of these?

  31. I get these carpenter bees bad at my house. Do the males actually go in the bored holes? I’ve read the males are the ones out flying around the nest and they don’t have stingers, so they just act aggressive. The females have the stingers but they’re in the holes laying eggs.

    • Yep. You have it right. Only the females have stingers, and even they’re not particularly aggressive. You’d have to step on one, or something similar, before they’d mess with you.

  32. Hi Erin,

    We have had a Carpenter Bee problem since we built our Pergola that covers our concrete patio. We have tried nearly everything to get rid of them because we too have pressure treated wood and they have bored several holes in to it. We had an exterminator tell us that the only way to get rid of them was to wait until fall and then they would put something in the holes to fill them in so that they couldn’t get out after laying eggs. I told my husband about your trap and he built it. Oh my gosh does it ever work…we had a ton of them in the jar, around ten so far and haven’t seen a lot left flying around. This really worked and he made one for some guys at work (we could only find the mason jars in lots of 9) and his 85 year old father who came over and saw that it was working. We are so happy and I want to thank you so much for this awesome solution to a very annoying problem.

    • Hi Skye, I’m so glad to hear this worked well for you, and that you’ve been passing the idea on to other people who can use it.

  33. I bought 5 traps similar to this a couple months ago. My treated and stained deck is huge. I check them every week. So far, I’ve caught 2 bees. The thing that has worked best for me is a handy tennis racket. I’ve killed a ton of them. It’s fun. Rewarding. Great exercise and I get to practice my backhand. My son loves helping me spot the little devils too. Hope you have better luck than I did with those traps.

  34. Sure beats my current method of dealing with carpenter bees…. w hacking them with a leaf rake lol

  35. If you are watering your flowers or shrubs near where they are boring holes, hit them with the wide water pattern ….they can’t keep them lard butts in the air and sink like a rock in a pond… Then stomp on them like you putting out a fire… Two birds with one stone.

  36. The only bees you should be concerned with not harming are honey bees. Carpenter bees are destructive and need to be dealt with. There are to many hippies on here trying to save them. People don’t want damage done to their property and not everyone is made of money to constantly make repairs. If you feel bad for killing them then get some honey bee nests to make up for the carpenter bees you kill. Then you can have plenty of non destructive pollinators and you get free honey.

  37. I have a big problem with wasps, im gonna try the wood bee and ant solution but the wasps are terrible also I have a raccoon that has taken up residence in my attic any suggestions would be greatly appreciated

    • Hi Harry,

      There’s no need to add sugar water, if you’re trying to catch carpenter bees (the holes in the wood will attract them). You can however use sugar water or soda to turn the carpenter bee traps into a wasp trap.

  38. Killing Carpenter Bees is totally Ignorant. They are a very, very Important pollinator. A third of all human food needs pollination.
    Please Expand your knowlege base. Doesn’t monsanto kill enough pollinators already ???

    • Hi John,

      We aren’t using these traps to kill all carpenter bees — just the ones that are in areas where they’re likely to do a lot of structural damage. And I agree completely: helping our pollinators is very important. That’s why I have several mason bee houses in my garden (they’re the best pollinators out there), and why I’ve landscaped my yard with plants to attract pollinators. It’s also why I plan to set up several hives in the near future. Bees do a lot of good, but they can also become pests when they’re doing damage to your home and/or threatening the safety your family. It’s a delicate balancing act.

  39. I just build the carpenter bee trap, very easy! Instead of hanging it, I mounted it on the overhang of a storage shed to keep it from swinging around during periods of high wind.

  40. My husband and a neighbor built a bunch of these a few weeks ago. They used some old cedar limbs that we had laying around. Between us we have severely cut the carpenter bee population in our neighborhood. We caught 5 yesterday morning in one of them. Something else that they did is to put about 3 inches of water in the jar. Bees can’t swim and there is no chance they will get back out once they go in. Even caught a horse fly in one.

    • Glad to hear they’re working well for you. It’s great that you were able to get your neighbor in on the action. That should really improve your success rate 🙂

  41. My husband and I are retired and love making things together, this was great and easy to make. I used old jelly jars from Rural King that I had (I never throw anything away). We made 2 and have 6 more to go. Thanks for the info

  42. I have a husband, who stands outside all afternoon like a crazy man, with a tennis racket, until he kills them all, lol. This sounds like a better idea! 😉

  43. I started to build one of these but decided I need a birdhouse more, so after I cut the block of wood with the angled top I drilled a pilot hole in the front of the bird house thinking the birds would hollow it out to their specs. Even though I started the house for them, they would not finish it. LAZY BIRDS.

  44. Step 3 would be easier if done before step 2 for a straight hole. Step 6 could be done at the same time making a more precise and cleaner alignment of lid and wood openings.

  45. Hi Barbara,

    I’ve had one other person that ran into that problem. I haven’t been able to figure out the cause (we still have lots of orders coming in), so I’m going to submit a support ticket to Etsy. Since it’s the weekend, I may not here from them until tomorrow, but we’ll get it figured out 🙂

  46. While we’re waiting to hear back from Etsy, I do have one thought: It might be worth trying to place your order using a different browser. (ex. if you’re using Internet Explorer, maybe try Google Chrome or Firefox). It could just be a browser compatibility issue.

  47. A good carpenter bee hole fix – after you know the bee is dead or gone, fill with steel wool and then wood filler – they don’t come back to that hole.
    An exterminator friend said wood painted with acrylic paint is the only paint that keeps them away. Could be true – our cedar porch looks like swiss cheese, BUT they not have touched our acrylic painted wood porch out front, that used to be just stained treated lumber and they used to loved to bore it.

  48. nut to shabby. looks pretty easy enough, i’ll have to try that. i usually just play tennis wth an electric fly swatter. ZAP!!!

  49. why would the carpenter bees go into the trap holes rather than the holes they already made? What attracts them to the trap?

  50. This is the first year we’ve had carpenter bees. At first we had no intention of getting rid of the aggressive buggers. Then we noticed the bees were chasing off butterflys and hummingbirds. If you can’t live in harmony in our yard you gotta go! There were many many more nests from what we first saw. We sprayed brake cleaner in the holes. And sprayed the bees that were flying around. Instant death. Took 3 days of spraying but we haven’t seen anymore for 2 days. The destruction they caused in a short time was pretty big.

    • Hi George,

      I’d check to make sure there aren’t any bees stuck in the holes. If they’re clear, then I’d try moving it to a different spot. I recommend sticking it in an area where you’re seeing a lot of bee activity. Hope this helps.

  51. I have made 9 of these now for friends and neighbors. All together we have captured dozens of wood bees. Thanks for the info!

  52. I built the bee catcher as per instructions. hung it up near the bee holes. next day they all had left. no bees. why did this happen???

    • Hmm … I don’t know. That’s not something I’ve seen before. Maybe something else happened to make them go? Either way, I guess no carpenter bees is a good thing 🙂

    • Hi Floyd,

      Another possibility occurred to me: maybe they’d didn’t really disappear, but instead shifted from boring holes to laying their larvae. The adults die off in July, so you may just be coming to the end of the carpenter bee season for your area. Just a thought.

  53. I have carpenter bees in both my front and back yard. i made the trap and put one in the front and the other in the back.
    I am sad to say this was not the best experience for me. when i hung the one trap up in the back i could of swore i heard the carpenter bees laughing at me. One even said to the group of the other bees “what is this douche doing” and they just hung around laughing. fortunately for me i do not have a self confidence problem and was able to continue with my day unfazed by the hazing i had just received. my solution was grabbing a medium size rake out of my garage and swinging it at the bees as if i was Babe Ruth.
    Needless to say my problem is now solved and i am currently hitting 425 in my softball league.

  54. Erin do you have a solution for mole crickets. We have a mango and a mamey close to their tunnels so we hate to use the chemicals. Thanks.

    • Hi Virgi,

      We get mole crickets in our basement, and have had a lot of success with sticky traps (the kind you’d use for mice). They’re designed to attract a hole range of insects and pests.

  55. Why is the hole in the metal lid 1/2″ and the other hole 7/8″? Looks like both holes should be 1/2″ in the base of the trap.



    • Theoretically, all the holes could have the same diameter, but it can be tricky drilling the four entrance tunnels so that they meet up perfectly with the center tunnel. So, the center tunnel is a bit (no pun intended) larger to allow your drilling angle to be off a few degrees to the left or right.

  56. i have fruit trees and all kinds of flowering plants in my yard which is an acre. my neighbor has bee boxes and he puts those right next to our fence. mutual benefit. so i don’t spray anything at all. he gave me a bee trap just like yours with a plastic bottle attached and it is hanging on a grapevine wire in my back porch. it traps carpenter bees non stop. nothing is stained or painted. they were just drilling holes on a board which is across the posts on top. the trap is now hanging right there. it works great. i think they just love some boards better. the wood they were drilling and the trap are untreated. ii don’t know but maybe they just prefer them

  57. Built one as a project with my youngest and hung it about 2 weeks ago. It took about a week to catch the 1st one, but we came home to 4 more caught yesterday, prompting us to build 2 more traps. Hung 1 and gave one to a neighbor that stopped by asking about catching “wood bees”. Patience!

    • That’s awesome! We just came through a cold snap, so no bees for the last week or so here in TN. Now it’s warm again today, and we watched four bees entering one of our traps at the same time!

  58. Thanks Erin! Very easy to make and effective. I am lazy usually by nature, but these were so easy to make and actually a little fun! Greatly appreciate you sharing this with us! Have a great Spring
    PS – We live in a log home and I’m so tired of plugging holes!

    • That’s awesome, Marc. The mailman just picked up boxes, so those new traps are on their way to you 🙂

  59. Best design that I have found. Easier to make. The Spectracide Foam is $12.98 on Amazon (plus shipping) and only $6.38 at Lowe’s (plus tax). Same size can. Just sayin’.

  60. I put in a new deck and some carpenter bees went right to work. Two holes about 2 inches deep when I found them. I put a 16p nail in each hole……and they moved on to someplace else:-)

  61. We use the tried and true method of buying a old badminton (best).. racquetball, or tennis racquet and your turn to serve!.. I kill 20 at a time!

  62. Erin,
    What am I doing wrong!?!?
    I made 2 of these exactly as you describe two weeks ago and have not caught one yet. I was gonna make 6 more, but I wanted to see if these worked 1st. Do you have any ideas? I hung the 2 I made right above the holes they are creating on my log home. I know it’s not your fault, but I was so excited to find something so easy to make and I am not having any luck at all…. Any advice? Much appreciated!!! Art C.

    • Hi Art,

      Did you spray the holes with Spectracide and fill them in? That’s important because it sends the bees looking for somewhere else to nest. When we treat carpenter bee holes, we can pretty much count on having several bees in our traps within the next 24 hours. If you’ve done that, you may want to experiment with the location of your traps. Sometimes even the smallest change in location makes a difference. Aside from that, I would check that all of your holes line up in the trap and that there aren’t any bees stuck inside one of the holes. Hope that helps. It’s really exciting when you discover your first carpenter bee in a trap 🙂

  63. I’m certain that this device works great, but why go through the painful making of this device when a simpler one works? I
    have one that works awesomely and saves me all the work. It’s free too!!! Buy a badminton racket, find the queen bee and whack the fire out of them when they go in and out. I killed about 135 of them last yr. and 35 this year so far. May and June on the way. Then queen is under your wood. Spray the wood with a garden hose and it drowns the fire out of them. Kill the queen and away they go to find a new house for a new queen. Fill in any holes with wood filler which hardens like a rock. Do it the easy way. Get the word out!!!

    • Hi Bob, just wanted to add a few comments. Carpenter bees aren’t social bees like honey bees, so there aren’t queen bees. You’re correct that it’s the females living in the holes, though. I wouldn’t recommend using water to drown them and flush them out of the holes. Their nesting holes can be quiet extensive, starting vertically and then extending horizontally through the board that they’ve bored into. There’s a huge potential to trap water in the wood, which could be a big mold concern. Also, without using a chemical treatment, like the Spectracide that we use, there’s no guarantee that you’re killing the larvae in the nest. And eliminating that is a big part of controlling how many carpenter bees you’ll be dealing with next year. Using a racket to kill the carpenter bees definitely works, and can be really satisfying, but it only works when you’re out there in active pursuit. The beauty of a carpenter bee trap is that it’s working for you all the time. We leave ours up all winter, which means our first indication that carpenter bee season has arrived is when we start seeing bees in our traps, not holes in our tree house and swing set.

  64. These really work. Built one to test and within four hours had one in the jar. Thank you for this idea.

    • It can be tricky drilling the four entrance tunnels so that they meet up perfectly with the center tunnel. So, the center tunnel is a bit (no pun intended) larger to allow your drilling angle to be off a few degrees to the left or right.

  65. I made one of these and have trapped 10 in a week. I use plastic instead of glass and works fine. Have two m to finish to hang at my barn.

    Easy to do and love it. Thanks for the great and easy plan.

  66. I have been told that anhydrous borax works on cockroaches by drying them out. Put it in the areas where they travel. They will drag some back to the nest and over time kill the entire nest. Fortunately I have never needed to try this. but friend who have lived in infested areas say it works.

  67. Many of these bees at our hunting camp and woodshed. When my son and I are there alone, we use .357 and .410 shot shells on them as they hover for a second or two. And yes, we shoot in a safe direction only.

  68. This saddens me, you attract them then want to get rid of them….Really?
    Why not just make a box from scrap wood and place it away from the house and tree house so they have somewhere safe to set up house. We are losing our bees to pesticides as it is. If we lose our bees we won’t have flowers or crops anymore.

    • Hi Barb,

      Our carpenter bee traps aren’t designed to attract them from across the yard. They’re only going to be attracted to the trap, if they’re right by it. So, if you hang it from your eaves, it’s only going to catch the bees that are boring holes in your eaves. And we’ve intentionally designed our traps so that they’re not attractive to other pollinators or insects. Carpenter bees can do a lot of structural damage, so this is really the least heavy-handed approach you can take to prevent damage to your home, shed, deck, etc. It used to be that building out of pressure treated lumber or painting wood prevented the damage, but that just isn’t the case anymore. We’ve built houses for other types of bees in our yard (mason bees, for example), but that isn’t a very good solution for carpenter bees. Providing housing for them only serves to increase their population (and therefore the problem). Each carpenter bee lays 6-10 eggs. And unfortunately there’s no way to ensure that they’ll live in the house you built for them rather than your eaves, your deck, etc. I’m never a fan of killing insects, but sometimes it’s necessary, and this is definitely a lot better than applying a broad spectrum insecticide that’s going to affect all sorts of insects. This is a very targeted approach to a very real problem, and it’s something I’ve put a lot of thought into. If someone makes or buys one of our traps instead of dusting their yard with pesticides, then we’ve helped the bee populations — not hurt them. And that’s the outcome that I’m hoping for.

  69. I made 2 of ur bee traps 2 wks ago for my brother, we wd40ed the holes, stuffed the holes & taped them,,, No carpenter bees R using them.. instead they R drilling thru our tape & also making New holes…What’s wrong???? HELP PLEASE….
    I’m lookin like a FOOL..

    • Hi Judy,

      I recommend treating the holes with Spectracide Carpenter Bee Foam. It’s designed specifically to kill the carpenter bees. Then, I’d fill the holes with caulk or a wooden dowel. That’ll provide more of a barrier than the tape. Make sure your traps are hanging as close to your holes as possible. It’s getting pretty late in the season, but if you treat and fill their existing holes, you should still be able to trap them. Hope that helps.

  70. I built two for starters. First warm day I have success with one of them. How do I kill the bee without contaminating the trap ?

  71. You say to drill the bottom hole 7/8″ but by the looks of the photos it is nowhere near as big as 7/8″. It looks more like the 1/2″ holes. Is this correct and if so, why is such a large hole needed on the bottom as it seems it would only give the bee a better chance of discovering the exit.

    • We originally drilled all the holes with a 1/2″ bit, including the bottom one shown in step 3. Upon discovering that one or more of our holes ended up slightly off center/angle (i.e. all 5 tunnels didn’t intersect as well as we are aiming for), we later enlarged the diameter of the bottom one to 7/8″, which compensates for a small amount of drilling error.

  72. *****5 stars!!!!!***** I live in north-central Florida where carpenter bees can be (bee) real pests. I was so impressed with this simple design, I built twelve of them! Within one hour, I had trapped a black wasp. In twenty-four hours, I had my first carpenter bee! And try as he (she) might, he cannot get out. I cannot wait to see further results. Just make sure you plug all your existing carpenter bee holes in the area where you set your traps. They were some very angry bees when they found all their holes plugged when they returned home yesterday evening. Looking forward to more results.

  73. I ordered mine on Saturday! Today, is monday, and I got it in the mail today! Extremely fast shipping. It was packaged very well. I was so excited. I got it hung on the porch, and I can’t wait to start catching bees!!! I’ve treated the holes they put on my porch with a dust pesticide, and we are caulking the holes tomorrow.

  74. The 45° angled top made it hard to work on.
    I suggest keeping it flat if it’s hung in a sheltered location. If not, make it the last cut.

  75. Biggest problem I had was finding some of the existing holes.
    They bore in behind the fascia boards so I really have to scout around with a flashlight.
    Question, I have heard that some people add sugar and a little vinegar to attract the Borers but not the Honey bees.

  76. It took a couple of days before the bees showed any interest in the traps, but once the party started, they came in droves.

    I leave the bees inside the traps. The pheromones they produce invites even more bees to join them.

    It’s important to use UNTREATED wood. Of the four traps I made, they seem to be most interested in the one I made from old wood. Perhaps the newer wood doesn’t suit their taste buds

    I’m definitely sharing this link with anybody who asks.

    • I forgot to mention that the traps hang under the eaves of my deck…just inches from the nasty holes they’ve been boring. I put up four traps. After just four days, I’ve snagged a total of a dozen bees. Nine in one jar, two in another and a solitary bee in the last. One jar still remains empty, but it’s located in an area where there had been very little boring.

      The ratty looking one made from old wood is the one with the most tenants. I am in disbelief how well these work.

      Now, the mama robin nesting just under the porch roof can resume her motherly duties in peace.

  77. Saw your plans..built one in 15 minutes, hung it under the eave of our granddaughters’ play house. Works like a charm. I’m up to a dozen bees caught in just a few days. Thanks for the solution!!!

  78. I just built 2 of these to hang out where I’ve been battling some carpenter bees for 2 springs/summers now. I use a red cedar 4×4, and then put a couple pieces of scrap aromatic cedar on top as a little roof. They look “cute” according to my wife, which is great because as much as function is the highest priority, a little for never hurts either! And I like how it will make it tougher for water to get into the end grain.

    Drilling the holes was very simple – I used a spade bit for the 7/8″ hole and then a regular twist bit for the 1/2″ holes. I found the 1/2″ holes were easier to drill if I started them straight into the wood and then angled my drilled once I had made a divot.

    I also used the Spectricide foam in the holes, and caulked them up, so hopefully the bees will be driven toward my trap. Looking forward to seeing how they work, thanks for the instructions!

  79. I made one of these this spring – I had planned on making that other trap that’s more a box than this solid 4×4 as well but didn’t.

    This trap was 100% effective on the side of the garage where I hung it. I trapped around 30 bees and now we’re bee free. Ordinarily at this time of year they’d be all over the place, hovering annoyingly in our faces as we tried to enjoy the deck. This year there are none.

    My thanks to you for this easy to follow guide.

  80. This IS the trap I built, with the 4×4 post. I didn’t find it difficult at all but it’s not working as good as as I hoped. Should I put something sweet in the jar maybe? are the holes to far down away from the ceiling? they are drilling new holes in the ceiling of the porch..

  81. Make sure you put your trap as close to existing carpenter bee holes as possible. I had trapped a wasp withing one hour, and a carpenter bee withing 24 hours.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *