Archives: May 2012

What's the Buzz All About?

If you have ever visited a home with wooden eaves, most likely you have seen and heard the massive bees hovering around and softly buzzing. I happen to live in a home with wooden eaves at Lake of the Woods, so I am quite familiar with these pests that bore perfectly round holes in my eaves with such precision that you would have thought they were made by a drill! Initially afraid of these invasive bees-on-steroids, I decided to investigate.
Similar in size to bumblebees that nest underground, carpenter bees nest in wood, preferably at least 2 inches thick, or in tree trunks. The initial entryway they excavate is about an inch long, and then tunnels are made at right angles inside the wood. Carpenter bees, while a pain in the wood, shouldn’t be a pain in the neck, back, or shoulder! The male does not have a stinger, and the female is docile and typically stings only if handled. Even though I know this information, I must admit that I’m still run for cover if approached!
The real problem here is that these bees are capable of causing substantial damage. The small ½ round hole that’s visible is only the proverbial “tip of the iceberg.” The single hole made by a female is easily correctable; the issue is that the subsequent brood will enlarge the tunnel, causing more damage that you can’t see. The bees don’t eat the wood; they simply drill through it to make room for themselves, the chambers they construct, and their nests.
They winter in these tunnels, emerging in spring to mate. Then the female lays her eggs in the chambers, where she has deposited pollen on which her larvae feed. The new brood emerges as adult bees in the summer, and then it’s back to the chamber for winter hibernation.
Getting rid of these pesky critters isn’t easy. Based on my research, a dust pesticide applied inside the hole works best. However, precautions must be taken with pesticides. It may be advisable  to have a professional exterminator do it. Or, another approach is to fill the hole with a wood putty and re-seal or re-paint. OR…you can try, as I have, lying in wait for them to come close enough to “hit” with a wasp and hornet jet-stream foam. Of course, it’s just my luck that cedar is their preferred wood type. I live in a cedar home.
I happen to find this comical: Their only predators are woodpeckers (which I really don’t care to welcome at my cedar home), and the Green Lynx Spider. Hmm…which do I prefer?
So here I stand, watching the squirrels continue to dig up my yard and the bees drilling holes in my eaves. The bees are good pollinators of flowers and plants, so perhaps they will assist with my landscaping that the squirrels haven’t yet destroyed. Instead of adding bees to the growing list of creatures outwitting me, I think I’ll just go jump in the lake… and hope that a turtle doesn’t get me!
Until next time…It’s another beautiful day at the lake!
Pat Licata REALTOR
Licata on the Lake