carpenter bee on wood in pittsburgh

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Most people know what a bee is and that they should give them their space in order to avoid becoming victim to a painful sting. Did you know that there are actually many different types of bees? That’s right, believe it or not some bees are social, some are solitary, and some can actually be destructive to the structure of your home. The three most common types of bees that homeowners come into contact with are carpenter bees, bumble bees, and honey bees.

Bumble bees and honey bees have their differences in appearance and behavior but overall are very similar. Both species are very beneficial as they are responsible for pollinating a large variety of plants, crops and flowers. Honey bees also produce delicious, sweet honey that we can eat!

They both live in large, social colonies and while bumble bees are a bit more aggressive they will both defend themselves and colonies by stinging perceived threats. The venom from both species will cause a painful welt to form and may require certain people to seek medical attention because of a severe reaction to the venom.

Carpenter bees are similar to bumble and honey bees in that they do pollinate flowers and crops, and females have the ability to sting (but rarely, if ever, do). As similar as these bees are, they do have their differences as well. Carpenter bees are solitary and therefore do not live in large nests with other members of the same species. Instead, the females create dime size holes in untreated wood to lay their eggs in and to overwinter in.

Carpenter bees also differ from other species because they are considered to be a destructive pest. They will create their “nests” in untreated wood and are often found in decks, porches, and sheds. They will come back to the same area year after year increasing the amount of holes in wood and weakening its structure. Carpenter bee nests attract woodpeckers to them. These woodpeckers will peck at the hole in order to eat the bee larvae which in turn increases the damage to your structure.

As a homeowner, having bees on your property can be beneficial but only if their nesting areas are located away from your home and are not affecting the structural integrity of your property. Since these pests have the capability to sting, it is important to try to prevent bees from being too close to your home. Ways to prevent bees include:

  • Reducing areas of standing water around your property that they can use as a water source.

  • Limiting the amount of flowering plants that are planted near the exterior of your home.

  • Placing vegetable gardens away from the exterior of your home.

  • Making sure that all wood used to create decks, porches, sheds, playgrounds, etc. are sealed or stained.

Despite your best efforts, bees can be tricky to prevent. If you do find that you are having problems with stinging insects on your property, do not try to eliminate them on your own. The best way to get rid of any bee species without getting stung is with the help of a professional pest control expert or a professional bee keeper.

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