Last Thursday I noticed some fuzzy shavings on our porch. I couldn't quite tell what it was, but thought that it might be something shed by the fern in front of our house.


I considered the possibility that something could be chewing up the wood of the railing on our porch, but I didn't see anything right away. I knew I should look into it more, but I didn't give it a lot of thought. On Sunday, Agnes was getting something from the car and said that there was a huge bee out in front of our house. That reminded me of some huge bees that I had seen when I was traveling to Atlanta that dig tunnels into wood. We looked it up on the Internet and found that we had carpenter bees.

Carpenter bees will create a nest in wood by drilling a hole about a half-inch in diameter, and then turn ninety degrees to continue making a tunnel horizontally. The female then lays eggs and uses some of the wood shavings to wall them off. Carpenter bees tend to reuse nests, and if left unchecked, they can completely ruin the wood that they occupy. The male carpenter bees, which have a bit of a reddish color cannot sting, but the females, which are largely black, have a pretty painful sting. We're not sure which it was that Agnes saw.

I took a closer look under the railing and found the hole that we expected to find.

carpenter bee hole

We called the same bee people that we used in April when we had a problem with bees in the house. This carpenter bee problem wasn't covered under the same warranty since the earlier bees were honey bees. Still, we asked them to come out and treat the railing for the carpenter bees.

bee people

The bee people examined the entire railing for additional holes. They then sprayed into the one hole we knew about, and sprayed down the rest of the railing for good measure. They were hoping that the bees (a male and female) would be in the hole when they sprayed the poison, but they were away. The female came back while the guys were still spraying, but flew away again. Before leaving, one guy went to the tree across the street, then came back and said "sprayed her in the face". I guess he got the female bee.

spraying the hole with poison

Theoretically, our carpenter bee problem has been solved. We can't touch the wood railing for about a week while the poison remains. After that, I'll plug the hole with some wood putty. Various pages on the Internet said that the eggs are sometimes protected by being walled off from the main tunnel, and that the larva survive if they hatch after liquid poison dissipates, so it's possible we'll see a recurrence. Our warranty for carpenter bees is ninety days, so we'll cross our fingers that we don't see more of them.