If you think you have bumblebees flying around under your deck or the eaves of your home, it is more likely that you have carpenter bees. Bumblebees live in the ground near the flowers they like to pollinate. Carpenter bees prefer to live in the wood of your home and are equipped with the ability to drill deep tunnels through that wood. This can be a significant problem if that wood is a support beam.
How do I tell if my bees are carpenter bees?
If they come crawling out of a circular hole that has been drilled into wood, it is most definitely a carpenter bee. Sometimes you may need to get down and look up under your deck or porch to find these holes. Carpenter bee queens drill upwards and then to the side.
If you see bees flying around, but don't see where they came from, you can distinguish carpenter bees from bumblebees by looking at their hind section. Carpenter bees have black hairs from their midsection back.
Should I be worried about having these bees?
As far as whether or not they present a stinging hazard, you don't have to worry too much about carpenter bees. The males do not have stingers and the most they can do is do threatening flybys of your head. The females can sting, but they won't typically attack unless they feel that their home is in danger.
The danger these insects pose comes in the form of wood damage. Though queens don't typically bore more than two feet out of wood, they are prone to reusing old tunnels and adding to them. This can cause enough damage to a porch, deck or patio to cause it to bend and buckle.
What should I do if I have carpenter bees?
Never try to seal carpenter bee holes with a caulking gun, wooden plug or paste, until you are sure the holes are empty. Queens will bore another way out and this will increase the damage. Your safest and most effective option is to call a professional pest control company and have a specialist fix your problem. They know the habits and defense strategies of these pests. And, they know how to make your home less of a target in the future.