Q: We have owned a small yet beautiful log home as a second home for about six years, and we are experiencing wood bees on our front porch that are boring holes into our logs, mostly the posts on the porch. What can we do to prevent further damage? Not only do we have deep holes, but also the bees are large and annoying, and they are leaving wood shavings all over the rails and floor of the porch. Your input would be helpful. – Therese L. Lusby, Lake Cumberland
A: You’re right, your problem is most likely wood or carpenter bees. These bees make their nests in exterior structural logs or decorative wood trim such as fascia boards, overhangs and soffits. A round hole is chewed on the surface and is typically about ½-inch in diameter. Even though you only see the hole, what you don’t see is the tunnel they have bored, usually at 90 degrees to the entrance.
Late spring/early summer seems to be the wood bees’ favorite time for buzzing around making a nuisance of themselves. But their tunnels are actually used year after year while being lengthened by the female. They can get quite long.
If you are looking for an immediate solution for extermination, you may want to contact a local exterminator. One of my colleagues has a riverside log cabin, and she’s had great success with hiring Guardian Pest Control to treat for carpenter bees and carpenter ants.
If you decide to exterminate the bees yourself, keep in mind that to eliminate these bees, you must treat the actual nest – beyond just spraying a bee/wasp killer at the bees buzzing around your place.
To treat the nest, there are actual “Carpenter Bee Kits” you can purchase that have everything you need. Key components of the kits are Drione powder and an applicator, like the Crusader Duster. If you are applying it yourself, please use goggles, gloves, and a dust mask.
The best time to treat any type of stinging insect nest is after dark on a cool evening when the insects are calm. After you’ve eliminated the carpenter bees, you’ll need to fill any holes with wood filler, caulk, etc. Some people first plug the holes with steel wool, metal screening or wooden dowels – then top it off with wood putty or caulk, followed by varnish or stain.
A great source of information about Carpenter Bees and a great place to order a "Carpenter Bee Kit," traps and other products is Schroeder Log Supply (www.loghelp.com).
For a long-term solution, there are additives that you can add to paints and stains that will repel the bees for several years. Many wood stain suppliers offer these additives. One of our longtime advertising partners, WOODGuard, has such products.
- Mark R. Johnson