In early April to late May, female carpenter bees are at work constructing new nests by carving tunnels approximately one half inch wide by eight inches long. The females then gather pollen and nectar and place it inside the nests for the larvae to feed on after hatching. Then the mating begins! The next generation of carpenter bees can progress from egg to adult in just over a month with up to three generations born each year. Meanwhile, the male carpenter bee is defending his territory by attacking animals and people passing by the nest. Males, however, are incapable of stinging while females can sting but rarely do. The adult carpenter bees then spend the winter in the nests constructed the previous spring.
Carpenter bees are often mistaken for bumble bees; however, carpenter bees’ abdomens are hairless and shiny black in color rather than the hairy yellow patches found on bumble bees. Adults range in size from three quarters to one inch in size and use wood to construct their nests, hence the name. Carpenter bees prefer soft woods such as pine and cedar, which often make up studs and slat siding in homes. Most damage caused by carpenter bees is largely cosmetic; however, carpenter bees can cause structural damage to homes, barns, and fences.