How to Keep Carpenter Bees Away Naturally


Natural and eco-friendly tips on how to keep carpenter bees away from your property – so that you can enjoy your outdoor space.

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If your home has suffered from an infestation of carpenter bees, you’re not alone. Although it may seem like there’s no hope of getting rid of these pesky little creatures, there are actually a few ways to discourage them without using harmful chemicals. In this post, we’ll cover some natural and eco-friendly tips on how to keep carpenter bees away from your property – so that you can enjoy your outdoor space without worrying about damage or disturbed peace!

Are you tired of unwanted wood-pecking guests turning your prized wooden structures into Swiss cheese? Good news, help is on the way! In this article, we will delve into:

  • Understanding the behaviors and preferences of pesky little critters called carpenter bees
  • Techniques for preventing carpenter bee infestations
  • Using natural, non-toxic repellents such as almond oil and citrus oil to keep these bees at bay
  • Exploring other creative ways to discourage carpenter bees from making their home in your property.

TLDR SUMMARY: To prevent carpenter bees from invading your space, you can adopt two main strategies. First, treat and paint raw wood surfaces because these bees prefer untreated wood. Second, use bee natural repellents or carpenter bee traps that do not harm the bees.

Understanding Carpenter Bees

Carpenter bees, particularly the females, are unique creatures with fascinating behaviors:

  • Unlike their look-alike cousins, bumble bees, female carpenter bees are not social insects and prefer solitary nests.
  • These bees have a penchant for wood surfaces. Their strong jaws allow them to carve immaculate galleries within wooden structures, giving them the name carpenter bees.
  • A carpenter bee infestation may not seem like a big problem at first, but given time and the right conditions, they can cause significant carpenter bee damage to your home, wood structures or other property.
  • The bees create their cozy abodes by drilling carpenter bee holes into wood. Watching them might tempt you to admire their craftsmanship, but remember, you’re essentially looking at bee-made demolition.

At the heart of understanding and managing a carpenter bee problem are these unique behaviors that define them. And as unfortunate as the situation may be for you, respect for these bees is still paramount. Carpenter bees are important pollinators in our ecosystem. The key is not to wage war, but to find harmony with these female bees.

In the upcoming sections, we’ll learn how to achieve this balance by preventing infestation, using natural repellents, and exploring creative, bee-friendly techniques.

carpenter bee closeup photo
Photography Credit: Cornell CALS

Prevention Techniques

Maintaining prime conditions for your wooden structures while simultaneously deterring female carpenter bees may seem like a balancing act. Fear not; several prevention techniques have been found effective in deterring these insects.

Choose Carpenter Bee Resistant Wood

Carpenter bees exhibit preferences when it comes to their wooden abodes. They gravitate towards weathered wood, especially softwood such as redwood, cedar, cypress, and pine. In fact, your wooden structures might be a carpenter bee’s dream come true!

For exterior areas prone to carpenter bee infestation, opt for hardwoods. These are not the carpenter bees’ favorites, and they typically avoid hardwoods for nest building.

Paint, Varnish, or Pressure-Treat Your Wood

An untouched wooden surface is a playground for these bees. Carpenter bees prefer unpainted wood. Sprucing up your exterior wood (wood siding) with paint, varnish, or pressure-treating it regularly helps reduce weathering and discourages bees from nesting. It’s just like giving your home a facelift against carpenter bee damage.

Fill in Cracks and Depressions

Perhaps an easy temptation for a female carpenter bee on a wood surface is the presence of depressions or cracks, ready-made starter holes for her to begin her nest. Filling any pits and gaps in wood surfaces makes them less attractive to bees, reducing the likelihood of a carpenter bee infestation.

Use Scrap Wood Blocks

Designate homes for the carpenter bees by placing a few scrap blocks of wood around your yard. This might seem counterintuitive, but hear us out. Carpenter bees have evolved to be skilled wood-boring bees, so giving them a piece of wood to drill to their hearts’ content encourages them to stick with those pieces instead of your precious wooden structures, and it benefits your yard and garden through pollination!

Utilize Steel Wool and Wood Putty

The aftermath of a carpenter bee evacuation can leave behind unoccupied holes. Fill these with steel wool and use wood putty to seal them, preventing future reuse. Ensure to practice patience and only fill tunnels once new bees have emerged- remember, your garden benefits from these important pollinators. Once you’ve filled and sealed the holes, make sure to paint or varnish the repaired surfaces.

Fake a Wasp Nest

Even bees have their own set of fears, and wasps sit at the top of that list. Like many other species, carpenter bees will avoid nesting in the same area as the feared wasps. A fake wasp nest can serve as a deterrent, keeping your home carpenter bee-free without a single sting. This is one of my favorite natural solutions that doesn’t hurt the adult carpenter bees or the carpenter bee larvae. Inflate a brown paper bag, cinch the end closed, and hang it under the eave of your house. Although this technique discourages new nests, it may not spur existing bees to leave their established nests.

In conclusion, taking a few simple precautions can go a long way in preventing a full-blown carpenter bee infestation. Implementing these techniques can ensure both the longevity of your wooden structures and peaceful coexistence with your buzzing neighbors.

carpenter bee damage to wooden Structures
Photo Credit: Damage to wooden Structures

Natural Repellents

Nature has provided us with some delightful ingredients that carpenter bees seem to find less appealing. Two such ingredients that act as carpenter bee repellents are the essential oils of almond and citrus. Not only do they possess an enticing aroma for humans, but they also appear quite disagreeable to these bees.

Almond and Citrus Oils as Repellents

Carpenter bees aren’t fans of certain scents; fortunately, those scents include almond and citrus oils. Creating a solution with these oils and water efficiently and safely deters bees from creating a nesting site and causing extensive damage to your wood surfaces.

  • All you need to do is mix a suitable quantity of almond or citrus oil with water in a 1:3 ratio (one part oil to three parts water).
  • Be careful to shake well so the oil and water mix completely.

The Spray Bottle Method

  • Transfer the oil-water mixture into a spray bottle.
  • The spray bottle allows for easy and consistent application of your natural repellent around carpenter bee holes and other potential nesting sites.

Frequency of Application

Consistency is key when using natural methods.

  • Apply the solution on suspicious looking carpenter bee holes and other possible nesting sites around your wooden structures.
  • Repeat this spraying routine frequently, ideally a few times throughout spring when bees are most active and likely to nest.

Other Pest Deterrents

An additional perk of using these essential oils as bee deterrents is their potential to repel other pests.

  • Citrus oil and almond oil have been observed to deter a variety of other pests from entering your home or garden.
  • This means your homemade bee repellent can double up as a comprehensive pest control solution.

Safe and Non-Toxic

The best part about these natural repellents is the lack of harmful effects on you, your pets, and the environment.

  • Almond and citrus oils are non-toxic and safe for human contact and for the ecosystem.
  • While they expel unwanted carpenter bees, they don’t compromise the health and well-being of the environment or its other inhabitants.

Using natural deterrents is not only an effective method to keep carpenter bees away, but it’s also a safe and sustainable way that aligns with a respect for nature and our important pollinators.

citrus essential oil bottle

Other Creative Methods

Apart from standard prevention techniques and natural repellents, there are other out-of-the-box methods that can help you keep the carpenter bees at bay.

Sounds and Vibrations

Surprisingly, carpenter bees are sensitive to sound and vibrations, and these can be used to your advantage.

  • An effective strategy involves playing music or hanging wind chimes near the nest.
  • The sound and vibrations from the loud music or wind chimes disrupt the bees and can inspire them to nest elsewhere.
  • For this method to work effectively, it should be implemented consistently over several days.

Use of Reflective Objects

Carpenter bees do not like reflective surfaces.

  • Hanging pieces of a broken mirror or old CDs around carpenter bee nests and your wooden structures can effectively repel them.
  • Bright, reflective objects can confuse and disorient the bees, making them less likely to set up their nests around these items.

These creative methods should be used in conjunction with other prevention techniques and natural repellents. With the combination of these strategies, you can look forward to a bee-less future for your precious wooden structures. Remember, the key lies in their consistent and diligent application to keep carpenter bees away.

Last Resort: Buy A Carpenter Bee Trap

Carpenter bee traps are readily available and simple to use. Many models come in a two-piece package that requires assembly – make sure to paint or varnish the repaired surfaces for best results. Place your carpenter bee trap near crevices, eaves, or other carpenter bee nesting sites. The tunnel shape of the trap lures them in, but the bees can’t find their way out once inside. Periodically check the trap and discard trapped carpenter bees safely away from home. Be sure to empty your traps regularly, as they will fill up quickly, especially during spring!


Now that you are brimming with knowledge about carpenter bees and their control, it’s important to remember a few key pieces of information.

  • Understand the behavioral characteristics of carpenter bees and how they can cause harm to your wooden structures.
  • Implement prevention techniques, such as substituting the type of wood, maintaining painted surfaces, filling in cracks, providing carpenter bee-specific homes, and using steel wool and wood putty as deterrents.
  • Use non-toxic methods to deter the bees, like essential oil mixtures with almond or citrus oil, frequently applied using a spray bottle.
  • Try other creative methods like hanging wind chimes or playing disruptive music near the nests.

Facing a carpenter bee problem can feel daunting, but remember, you are now equipped with all the information and techniques to reduce carpenter bee damage and how to keep carpenter bees away in an eco-friendly manner. Good luck!

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I identify carpenter bees?

Carpenter bees are often mistaken for bumble bees. However, carpenter bees have a shiny, black abdomen, while bumble bees have a hairy, yellow and black striped abdomen. Female carpenter bees can be distinguished from males by their black color and tendency to remain near their nests.

Why are carpenter bees important as pollinators?

Carpenter bees are important pollinators in the ecosystem. As they move from flower to flower, searching for nectar from early spring to late summer, they transfer pollen. This facilitates cross-pollination, contributing to a healthy and diverse environment.

Can I prevent carpenter bees without killing them?

Yes, one can utilize several non-toxic and bee-friendly prevention techniques. You can deter them by choosing their less preferred types of wood, maintaining painted surfaces, filling cracks in wood surfaces, creating attractive alternative homes, and even using aromatic essential oil mixtures.

How can I use essential oils to keep carpenter bees away?

Essential oils, specifically almond oil and citrus oil, have repellent properties. Mix the oil with water in a spray bottle and spray around the bee nests and holes in the wooden structures to encourage them to vacate. Remember to apply your citrus spray frequently for desired results.

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