We had a mild winter and hot weather has come early in Georgia this year bringing the early emergence of numerous pests. Usually, in the late-spring and early summer, homeowners will notice large, black bees hovering around the outside of their homes. These are probably carpenter bees searching for mates and favorable sites to construct their nests. Male carpenter bees are very aggressive, often hovering in front of people who are around their nests. The males are harmless because they do not have stingers. Female carpenter bees can inflict a painful sting but usually don’t unless they are handled or disturbed while provisioning their nests. Carpenter bees look a lot like bumble bees except they have a shiny black and bare upper abdomen. Bumble bees have a hairy abdomen with yellow markings.
Adult Carpenter bees hang out in tunnels over the winter and emerge in the spring. After mating, the fertilized females excavate tunnels in wood to lay their eggs in a series of small cells. Each cell has a ball of pollen deposited for the larvae to feed on, emerging as adults in late summer.
Since they prefer bare wood to nest in, the best way to deter them is to paint exposed wood surfaces. Stains are not as effective but will give some level of repellency instead of the wood remaining bare. Treating the nesting sites can be a little tricky, but this can be done effectively and safely with the right materials and methods. Always use caution when getting close to their nesting area and when working with wood that Carpenter bees may be nesting in.