What to Do When You Get Your Traps:
First, understand that our carpenter bee trap(s) are part of the solution – not the total solution. If you want to catch a lot of carpenter bees (and I know you do), it’s important to follow all of the steps outlined below. These are the steps that we use to trap carpenter bees at our home, and they’ve proven successful for our customers, too.
1. Hang Your trap(s) as close to the bee activity as you can. If you see them boring into your roof eaves, hang them from your roof eaves. If you see them boring into the underside of your deck, hang them from the underside of your deck. You want to make the trap(s) as easy as possible for the bees to find, so put them where you’re seeing the bees.
**If you have carpenter bees in more than one area (ex. front porch and back porch), you may need more than one trap to get the job done**
2. Locate existing carpenter bee holes, and treat them. You no doubt discovered you had carpenter bees when you spotted the holes they were making, and those holes will need to be treated. Take a walk around your home, and make sure you haven’t overlooked any. Then, treat the holes with an insecticide. This will do two things: it will force the existing bees to look for new holes (if they weren't inside their holes when you treated them), and it will kill any larvae that they've laid, so you don't end up with more carpenter bees next year.
We use Spectracide Termite Foam to treat our holes (it's designed for carpenter bees, too). We get it at Lowe’s, but plenty of other stores carry it. Spectracide now also sells Carpenter Bee and Ground-Nesting Yellowjacket Killer Foaming Aerosol. It has the same active ingredients as the termite foam, so whichever one you’re able to track down is fine. This is the only brand we’ve tried, but others may work just as well.
Note: I have a strong preference for natural pest control solutions, so for me to suggest the use of an insecticide means I really think it’s important. If you want to treat your holes with something else, feel free to experiment. I can only vouch for what has worked for us.
3. Fill all carpenter bee holes. Use wooden dowels or caulk to fill the holes that the carpenter bees have made. This will prevent them from returning to their holes, and it will also prevent other carpenter bees from taking them over. If you’re short on time, something as simple as cramming a stick up the holes will work, until you’re able to make a more permanent repair. You just want to ensure that carpenter bees aren’t able to get back into the holes. This will send them looking for new holes, and you just happen to have a trap with four carpenter bee-sized holes ready and waiting!
And that’s all there is to it! Just follow this simple three-step plan, and you’ll be well on your way to eliminating your carpenter bee problem.
We’ve built our traps to be long-lasting, so they should serve you for many seasons to come. Just leave them hung up, and they’ll be there to tempt the carpenter bees when they arrive next spring.
When is carpenter bee season?
Carpenter bees emerge in the spring, and start looking for a spot to build their nests, so you’ll trap more bees, if you put your trap(s) out while they’re still looking for nesting sites. Here in Tennessee, carpenter bees emerge in April/May, and die off in July. You season may vary slightly, based on where you live.
That’s not to say that you can’t trap carpenter bees in the summer because you absolutely can. If you’re still seeing active carpenter bees, you still have a chance to trap them. You’re just going to have to work a little harder to make it happen. By this point, they will have well established nests, so you’ll need to be doubly sure that you’ve destroyed their nests. Otherwise they won’t have any reason to go looking for a new nesting spot. They’ll have turned their attention to egg laying.
With a little extra vigilance, we have successfully trapped carpenter bees in the final weeks of the season.
If you’re no longer seeing carpenter bees, they’ve probably gone dormant for the year. Just hang your traps, and treat and fill the holes as prescribed above, and you’ll be ready for them next year.
Do I need to bait the jar with anything?
Nope. The wood and carpenter-bee sized holes are bait enough. But do leave carpenter bees in the jar once you trap them. They’ll help you attract more carpenter bees. If the jar gets so full that you have to empty it, be sure to leave a few bees behind as bait.
Will the carpenter bee traps capture other bees and wasps?
Not usually. Without the addition of another form of bait, these traps will really only be interesting to the carpenter bees. You may occasionally catch a wasp that has crawled inside the trap to feast on the carpenter bees, but that’s pretty much it. And that’s what’s so great about these traps – they allow you to address your carpenter bee problem without harming other pollinators.
Do carpenter bees sting?
Very rarely. They’re solitary bees, so they’ll only sting, if they feel incredibly threatened. You’d just about have to squish one to get stung. And only the females are capable of stinging. The males may fly towards you in an aggressive manner, if you get near their nest, but they can’t do anything to harm you. They’re all buzz and no sting.