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Carpenter Bees - Can We Make Peace With Them?

A few years ago, I was sitting on my porch swing beginning to doze off when I heard a kind of scraping sound and followed the sound to a hole in the cedar that was directly above a pile of brand new sawdust. I took a closer look at where the sound was coming from and discovered a hole that was about a half inch in diameter that looked like it was perfectly drilled. A little research led me to the fact that carpenter bees (Xylocopa) had decided to co-habitate with us.  They look like bumble bees on steroids and they love making their nests in the fascia and in all the unfinished cedar on our house. 

A little more research told me that while carpenter bees tunnel in unfinished wood to lay their eggs, they are also excellent pollinators, and therefore they are considered beneficial. The males don't have stingers, but cause an annoyance factor by warning those coming too close to the nest.  The females do have stingers, but it's rare for them to use them.

I've weighed the pros and cons of sharing our space with Xylocopa, and decided that I'm mostly OK with it.  When they are tunneling into the fascia boards, I'm not too concerned.  When they are boring new holes in the cedar that hold up my porch roof, that's another story, but I'm not going to do anything about it.  The demise of so many honey bees makes me want to leave the carpenter bees in peace.  We will eventually have to replace some boards, but mostly from rot, not from bee damage. And anyway, we built our house in their neighborhood, not vice versa.

Peace little bees. Please don't eat too much of my house.