Is there a large scary looking bee dive-bombing you while you walk down your driveway? Do you see wood shavings on the side of your home or coming out of your deck? Are you afraid to walk by? What is this strange insect? It's a carpenter bee. Carpenter bees can be found everywhere on Long Island, Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx and New York City. These bees are large with black and yellow bodies that are covered with hair except for their abdomen. The abdomen is shinny; it is an important fact not to overlook when identifying them. Carpenter bees are a large bee that can measure up to 3/4 of an inch in length.
The questions are what are they doing there and why are they going after me. The answers are very simple. Carpenter bees make their nests inside of untreated unpainted wood that they hollow out. The bees chew their way into the wood and make a turn at a right angle. Inside of these chambers that they hollow out they lay their eggs in chambers seal them up and lay another egg. This procedure is repeated again and again as long as there is wood to hollow out. Carpenter bees will infest the same wood year after year if the wood is not sealed after the bees are eliminated. One of the tell tale signs of carpenter bees is not only wood shavings falling out the off holes but you may also see staining of the side of the building or the side of the deck that they are living in.
The males aggressively guard the nests by diving at other bees and unfortunately at people that pass by as well. The good part is that the aggressive males do not have the ability to sting you. But, keep in mind that they do have mandibles and can bite you should you try to interact with them. The holes that the female bees create in the wood is 3/8 to 1/2 inch in diameter. If you get enough generations of bees returning to the untreated wood members structural damage can occur. The bees overwinter in the nests and emerge in the spring to mate. Keep in mind if you paint or seal or raw wood this will greatly deter new bees from infesting your wood members.