natural pest control

carpenter bees – a simple DIY trap

carpenter bee traps

Every year when springtime temperatures roll in, you know THEY are coming. Bees, wasps, and hornets are all waking up and getting back to work again. Carpenter bees, in particular, cause a huge nuisance to anybody with a wood house, shed, or structure. They bore into the wood, take up residence, and guard it constantly. If you are like most, you have run from the dive bombing of these pesky little things.

After noticing that they were making Swiss cheese out of our shed, we knew we had to do something. We don’t use chemicals or anything that could potentially harm us or other bees nesting in better locations. The solution: carpenter bee traps!

carpenter bee traps

Bees are undergoing global decline due to Colony Collapse Disorder. Please only get rid of carpenter bees if they are causing serious issues. They provide pollination to many of the staple crops of our diets. Without bees, a significant portion of the world’s crop production would be in jeopardy. In addition to planting as many bee-friendly gardens as possible, we also plan to build or pick up some mason bees houses.

making a carpenter bee trap

We wanted to create something using scrap materials, a very simple design, and small profile. After pulling ideas from everywhere, this is what we came up with. The theory behind these traps are pretty simple. The bee is attracted to the open hole. It climbs in and falls down into the empty bottle and gets stuck. It’s unable to fly back into the hole and can’t climb the smooth plastic.

bees-in-bottle

supplies:

2×4 scrap lumber (cut to +/- 12” long)
1×6 scrap (cut to +/- 5″ long)
drill
½” spade drill bit
phillips head drill bit
small hammer
3 – 1-1/2” wood screws
tack nails or heavy duty adhesive
2 empty small plastic bottles

 

After you gather the materials, start drilling holes in the 2×4. Carpenter bees use entries that are about a 1/2″ in diameter, so use a spade as close to that as possible. Begin by drilling a hole on the face of the board. Only drill the hole 2/3rds of the way through.

drilling-first-holes

Flip the board over. Drill another hole on the bottom. Line this up with where the first hole is so that they meet in the middle. Drill until you hit the first hole. The goal is to create a rough 90 degree angle inside. Use the drill to clear out any broken pieces inside. Repeat the process for the opposite side.

drilling-holes-for-lidsGrab the other piece of scrap wood. We used some of the scraps leftover from making our cold frames. Drill pilot holes, so the wood doesn’t split.

drilling-two-pieces-togetherAttach the 1×6 piece to the 2×4 with 1-1/2″ wood screws.

drilling-the-second-hole-to-attach-piecesTake the lids off of the water bottles. Center a lid on the hole and drill through it. You might need a pair of pliers if you can’t get a good grip.

drilling-a-hole-in-the-lidAttach the lids using tack nails. Not all lids will work with nails. If they don’t, you can use a heavy duty adhesive. Just be sure to keep the hole clear. Check and double check that the bottle still fits if the lids get misshapen at all.

hammering-in-lidsOnce the other side is attached, it’s time to hang it.

lids-inPick a location near where you are having issues. It may be up under the eave of the house or on the side of a wood structure. Try to emulate the area where they are nesting in your yard. Drill a pilot hole and attach with wood screw.drilling-inScrew on the empty water bottles. Now it is good to go. Just step back and wait from here.

hanging-trapsSoon after, you will hopefully be on your way to freedom. This is our first carpenter bee trap. As you can see, it was pretty successful.

bees-in-bottleGood luck . And again please only use these when you truly must. Bees are a vital component of our ecosystems. Protect them every chance you get.

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14 Comments

  • Reply
    Klim
    May 27, 2016 at 2:14 pm

    Good idea! Thank you guys very much!

  • Reply
    Charlie
    June 7, 2016 at 8:22 am

    How very wrong to trap carpenter bees which are in grave danger of extinction. They are mostly harmless, and are the reason we have fruits, vegetables, nuts and even chocolate. True nature and natural homesteaders are doing their darndest to save them and provide for them. Without bee pollinators we have less than 4 years to live. I suppose you are in favour of GMO crops and pesticides also? If you are going to be posing as a ‘country couple’ that are all natural perhaps you should research a little more and realose just how important these guys are.

    • Reply
      Robin Hode
      June 8, 2016 at 5:12 pm

      You’re making all this up as you know. Is there some other agenda at play? To cloud the real bee issues? Say. Your straw man pitch just doesn’t fly either…..

    • Reply
      this natural dream
      June 8, 2016 at 10:31 pm

      Charlie,

      Thank you so much for visiting us and sharing your opinion. While I appreciate your concern for the bee population and your angst in regard to GMO’s, it’s vastly misdirected. We share in your fears of colony collapse disorder and work hard to provide a healthy and diverse bee habitat on our homestead and have never used chemical pesticides.
      Our best efforts go into providing well-researched content. Bees are certainly a foundation for a healthy ecosystem and do pollinate the vast majority of fruits and vegetables. Many other insects are important pollinators such as flies that pollinate figs and chocolate. Carpenter bees are not great pollinators across the board; only certain species are considered important pollinators. In our region, the dominant species is known to destroy flowers to rob nectar and bypass pollination. We built this carpenter bee trap to manage the overwhelming amount of bees drilling into the structure of our shed doing incredible damage and preventing us from entering it. The trap is taken down as soon as the problem is gone. Please do take a deeper look at our site as you will find many posts about natural living and gardening.

      -Ryan

    • Reply
      Dano
      April 15, 2017 at 5:16 pm

      Charlie, these bees burrow inside my patio then lay there larvae. These larvae then eat a cavernous hollow in the wood. These loving pollinators just cost me over 11,000 in new construction. I’ve put out softer wood for them an when time will take these to the forest. They are a pest and homeowners beware don’t be to nice to them. P.s all they pollinated were flowering weeds in my yard

  • Reply
    tim C
    June 7, 2016 at 10:18 pm

    Sorry Charlie, but I have to draw the line when a carpenter bee (or any other organism), jeperizes my health, safety, or destroys my property. If your next door neighbor came over, breaks into your house, and proceeds to drill holes in the walls of your house, you would not sit and put up with it. You will call the cops and have him arrested for vandalism, breaking and entering and criminal trespass. You can also make him pay for damages. With carpenter bees you don’t have much recource but to use traps, poison sprays or hire a exterminator. In any case your a victim 3 times. First you have to pay for the pests elimination. Then you have to pay for the damages they cause. Then you have to pay in your health/safety, when poison sprays a used and risk of getting stung. Carpenter bees are pests plain and simple., tell them to buzz off!

    • Reply
      this natural dream
      June 8, 2016 at 10:33 pm

      Thanks Tim. Obviously, carpenter bees are a problem for many. Thanks for checking out our pesticide-free method of pest control.

      -Ryan

  • Reply
    Charla
    June 10, 2016 at 4:51 pm

    I have some Carpenter bees doing tremendous damage to my front porch. If I don’t do something they are going to destroy it. I’m grateful for your information on this DIY solution. All things in moderation….right? I appreciate the info.

  • Reply
    Natoshka
    September 18, 2016 at 12:00 pm

    Carpenter bees can cause a lot of damage, structurally and financially. If you are having damage done by carpenter bees, but you do not want to kill them, due to bee populations dropping. Build traps with bottles/jars. Once bees are caught, swap out the bottle/jar. Take them at least 5 miles away, to a wooded area, and release them. Helps bee population and gets rid of your problem and does not hurt bee population.
    Problem solved

  • Reply
    Ana
    May 18, 2017 at 10:55 pm

    How about just painting any wood structure? Wouldn’t that deter the bees too?

  • Reply
    Suzanne
    June 4, 2017 at 2:36 pm

    Charlie. You have embarrassed your self with self righteous wrong info.

  • Reply
    kathleen
    June 28, 2017 at 4:37 pm

    I am not happy about your killing carpenter bees. All insects are under siege and destructive forces. Please please finds another way.

  • Reply
    Jim Kler
    September 7, 2017 at 1:56 pm

    Stick a bounce sheep or a dryer sheet into the carpenter bee hole and they will leave. They don’t like the smell of the laundry sheets. They just go make a home somewhere else away from your building.

  • Reply
    Chris
    October 30, 2017 at 1:32 pm

    I’ve tried a couple different versions of traps. I like this, with dual traps on one board. As for Charlie, I’m all for eco-mgmt, but my wife is deathly allergic to bees. Further, carpenter bees are more akin to wasps. They pack bugs into their nests for the larvae to eat. They generally tear the he’ll outta plants for nectar. Like gnats, they have a niche, but not in my house frame.

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