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Why do Carpenter Bees drill perfect holes?

Carpenter Bees are known for drilling perfect holes. Carpenter bees do not build beehives in order to lay their eggs, instead they drill holes in wood and choose to deposit their unhatched eggs there. They tend to drill perfectly round approximately 1/4-1/2 inch holes in their favorite woods like redwood, cedar, pine and cypress. They also have been known to build their nests in wooden frames, usually door frames and window frames, rafters, siding, porch ceilings and the eaves of houses. Carpenter bees do not eat the wood, instead they drill holes for nests to lay their eggs and to provide shelter for their young. Although they are often drawn to most types of wood, they have a natural attraction to wood that is raw and unpainted. The fact that the wood is unpainted draws the carpenter bees because in order to drill the best hole, they need to drill against the grain of the wood. They also prefer wood that is at least 2 inches thick. A thin piece of wood would not allow them to obtain the perfect results needed to build a good nest.

Once the carpenter bee drills holes that are approximately 1 inch deep, they then make a right-angled turn and continue their drilling with the grain of the wood. Since carpenter bees do not have teeth, they use mandibles that they use like teeth to tear away at the wood in circular patterns. This allows them to drill perfect holes which are sometimes several feet long and containing multiple chambers for eggs, all leading off of the main tunnel path. The length of the carpenter bee holes could be impacted by the fact they tend to reuse the same hole multiple times for several batches of eggs.

Carpenter bee holes are about the diameter of a finger which allows easy access in and out for bees but also keeps larger predators out. One of the first signs of a carpenter bee nest being nearby is the evidence of very fine sawdust either outside or beneath the hole as well as the presence of several bees lurking around in the area. These lurkers are guarding and protecting their nests and are prepared to battle with any other species that tries to take over and invade their habitat. After all, building perfectly round holes in wood for nests takes both skill and a lot of time.

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