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Carpenter Bees

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From: Heather Hayworth
Champaign, IL
We've been seeing a lot of carpenter bees around our fence in the backyard. I've read previous posts about using the insecticidal powder on their nests and plugging the holes in the fall.

I've also read that the males don't have stingers, so even though they may be a little aggressive, they are essentially harmless. Is there an easy way to identify the females? I'm a little worried about mowing in the backyard, as I've never been stung by a bee. Is it relatively safe to do yard work in the presence of carpenter bees?

Extension Message
From: Sandra Mason
State Master Gardener Coordinator
Champaign/Ford/Iroquois/Vermilion Unit
Hi Heather, we see Carpenter Bees quite a bit as they look for mates and places to nest. they arent going to come after you unless you disturb the nest and as you stated only the females can sting. males may "check you out and come near you but quickly fly away. if you are really concerned you may want to mow that area in the morning before they become active.

Being "Carpenter Bees" they burrow on wood to make nests, especially if the wood is bare, unpainted or weathered softwoods. Painted or pressure treated wood is much less susceptible to attack. Male bees show aggression to people around nests but they cannot sting. Females do however sting if they feel disturbed.

To manage Carpenter Bees, deter them by painting all exposed wood surfaces, stain or apply wood preservative. Keep garages and outdoor building closed when Carpenter Bees are actively looking for nesting sites.

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