An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide –

Carpenter Bees Hibernating

email-carpenter bee holes IMG_1408If your home, shed or barn has weathered, unpainted wood and is riddled with ½”-diameter, perfectly round holes, there is a chance that carpenter bees are hibernating in them. Carpenter bees resemble bumblebees in both size and appearance (a carpenter bee has very few hairs on the top of its abdomen, which appears black and shiny, whereas bumble bee abdomens are often yellow and hairy), but they are not social insects. Instead of having a common nest in which they live and raise their young, carpenter bees drill  holes in wooden structures or trees inside of which they chew tunnels that contain six to eight brood chambers for their young. After creating the chambers, the female carpenter bee places a portion of “bee bread” (a mixture of pollen and regurgitated nectar) in each one. On top of each pile of food she lays an egg and then seals off the chamber. The larvae eat and grow, pupate and emerge as adult bees in late summer. At this point they feed on nectar, pollinating a wide variety of flowers before they return to their tunnels to over-winter.

Naturally Curious is supported by donations. If you choose to contribute, you may go to  and click on the yellow “donate” button.

9 responses

  1. myip2014

    I wonder how they ‘drill’ the holes, and so perfectly round too??

    March 21, 2017 at 8:41 am

  2. Link Davis

    Food for thought. Isn’t it interesting that the first egg laid (at the far end of the tunnel) is the last egg to hatch. Otherwise, the first morphed adult would have to eat through the other brood chambers.

    March 21, 2017 at 12:43 pm

  3. Kathie Fiveash

    Do youhave any advice about prevention? Ihate to kill any pollinator,but these bees are causing a lot of damage to my garden shed and chicken house. And the wood they are drilling into is painted and not weathered.

    March 21, 2017 at 12:55 pm

    • There must be something you could put on your shed other than a toxic pesticide that would discourage them…not familiar with anything, and no time to research it right now, but I would try googling. Sorry not to be able to research it for you right now!

      March 22, 2017 at 7:32 am

    • Cindy

      I had carpenter bees. After they hatched I stained the wood and they didn’t return. My guess is their wood choices are limited in your area? I wonder if you could set something unpainted up that would be more appealing to them. Not sure what their ideal conditions are. For me they were targeting 4×4, horizontal, weather protected, East facing, support beams about 18″ off the ground.

      There must be some clever solution out there in Google-land. Read that you can stop porcupines from chewing your important wooden items by pouring salt on a stump or some other wooden thing making it more appealing than the outhouse or whatever. And I believe I read in the comment section on this blog! To get rid of ground bees, put a bit of garbage by the hole at night. Skunk smells the garbage, comes to eat it, finishes with a bee dessert! Not great for the ground bees, but sometimes one has to draw a line. I also inadvertently solve a bad ant problem (while obsessing over what to do) by having a Bosc pear on the counter (w/other fruit!). A couple days later it must’ve been most of the hive’s ants working on that pear. Completely black! (Insert panicked, wide-eyed look here!) Threw it far away – and felt bad after. I also cleaned out all the stacked wood on the ground nearby. No bees or ants since. Also got rid of a bad mice problem one fall by putting everything they might like to eat in canning jars and – again – cleaning out any “cover” on their path to my place. Limit rewards, increase risks.

      March 22, 2017 at 11:04 am

    • Kathie,
      They also sell pieces of wood with pre-drilled holes that apparently carpenter bees, at least some, prefer to having to chew their own holes…

      March 24, 2017 at 2:25 pm

  4. A woodpecker found a nest in the soffet panel of our wood shed, making the holes even bigger! I guess the only winner here was the woodpecker. 😉

    March 21, 2017 at 3:35 pm

    • Very cool!!! Do you have a photo of the carpenter bee holes after being visited by the woodpecker?

      March 22, 2017 at 7:29 am

      • I do – I’ll send one to you.

        March 22, 2017 at 9:50 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s