Carpenter bees, also known as wood bees, are small, inch-long insects that closely resemble a bumblebee. You can spot the difference by noticing the carpenter bee’s less-hairy, shiny abdomen. It is important to take preventative measures against these bees, as it is much easier to prevent them rather than to get rid of them. Carpenter bees are a pest to many homes by burrowing into unfinished wood for shelter and nesting. The bees do not eat the wood, they only use it to lay eggs and live.
The bees find the wood through the odor in which the natural wood emits. They prefer untreated soft woods; even weathered wood is attractive to the carpenter bees. Although they prefer untreated wood, painted or treated wood is not necessarily a surefire way to ensure that carpenter bees don’t attack. Painting is advised over staining, as the bees are more likely to be attracted to a stained finish versus a painted finish. If painting isn’t an option, it is recommended to stain and put a gloss topcoat over the stain which will provide an extra layer and will render the wood less useful to the bees.
Painting or staining the wood is still a great deterrent, however, it is important that all cracks and crevices are painted/stained, as any wood that is left unpainted is still susceptible to damage. Painting/staining is a non-chemical approach to taking care of the issue and also tends to be a more hassle-free option. When using sprays or other methods of prevention, it is necessary to spray the wood every 3-4 weeks from spring until autumn. When spraying, you also need to ensure that all wood area is covered (under rails, decks, etc.) Any area that is left unsprayed is fair game. This is also another reason that painting/staining is a better option, because with paint or stain it is easier to see the areas that have been covered already. Once dry, paint/stain is weatherproof whereas spray can be affected by rain. Some sprays have also been known to leave a visible residue, especially against darker woods. Because of that residue, this may not be the best way to go about prevention in homes with small children, dogs, or other animals that may touch or ingest the spray. Not only does painting/staining the wood prevent these bees from attacking, it is also a great way to weatherproof the wood and add a decorative, finished flare.
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