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From Pollen to Timber: Do Bees Eat Wood?




Do Bees Eat Wood?

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Though bees have pollen and nectar-rich diets. They can chew through different other elements if required. So, do they eat wood too?

Bees do not eat wood as it doesn’t contain any nutrients that bees ingest. However, some bee species can chew through wood to create their nest.

So, you might want to know which type of bees eat or chew through wood.

This article will deliver the following major findings.

  • Do bees eat wood?
  • If so, what type of bees eat wood?
  • Why do some bees chew through wood?
  • How to stop bees from destroying wood.



So, Do Bees Eat Wood?

Bees do not eat wood, but some ground bees dig through the wood to create their nest. Bees depend highly on pollen and a nectar-rich diet. They are not intended to eat anything else.

Do bees eat wood


Bees don’t like interference. So, if there is any barrier in front of their nest, bees will definitely chew that material using their strong mandible. They won’t ingest that material but they will chew it to create a path for their entrance.




Can Bees Chew Through Wood?

Bees can chew through so many materials like duct tape, drywall, etc. Similarly, bees will effectively chew through wood, if this creates a hindrance to the entrance of the beehive.

In simple words, Bees will chew and go through any materials that try to lock them anywhere.




Do Bees Destroy Wood?

Carpenter bees can effectively destroy wood by using their strong mandible. They will break wood and create a round-shaped hole to create their new home. 

Some bees are very much attracted to woods. So, they like old wooden materials, untreated wood, etc to create their nest. If required they have the capability to entirely destroy the wooden material.




What Type Of Bees Eat Wood?

Bees do not eat wood. However some ground bees can chew through wood to create their nest. The famous bees that mostly destroy wood is carpenter bees.

Because of their nesting habit in wood cavities, carpenter bees are sometimes called “wood bees”. They won’t eat wood but will dig and create a round-shaped hole. Those holes are less than 2 cm in diameter for their new home.


Carpenter bee nest in wood
carpenter bee nest in wood


In the United States, mainly 2 species of carpenter bees are found that create nests inside wood.

  1. Xylocopa virginica.
  2. Xylocopa micans.

These species of carpenter bees like to bore holes into woods like pine trees, untreated woods, furniture, etc.




Do Honey Bees Eat Wood?

No, honey bees do not eat wood. Even they will not chew through wood.

Beekeepers keep honey bees in different types of beehives. Most of the beehive is made with wooden materials. Because honey bees won’t eat wood and never try to chew and go through the wood.

Wood is a safe material to create a home for bees. This clarifies that honey bees never try to eat or even chew through wood.




Do Bumble Bees Eat Wood?

No, bumble bees won’t try to eat any type of wood. You might see bees eating wood which looks like bumble bees, but those are not bumble bees. Those are carpenter bees.

You can easily distinguish between bumble bees and carpenter bees.

Carpenter bees Bumble bees
Carpenter bees are large in size usually 0.7-1.5 inches. Smaller than carpenter bees up to 1 inch.
Hairless and smooth abdomen Bumble bees have a hairy abdomen
Only the thorax is fuzzy The head, thorax, and abdomen are fuzzy.
Carpenter bees are solitary. Most bumble bees are colonial like honey bees.




Why Do Carpenter Bees Eat Wood?

Carpenter bees are solitary and they do not live a colonial life like honey bees and bumble bees. They don’t have a queen and they don’t have any democratic social life.

Carpenter bees live individually and create their nest on their own. The female carpenter starts its individual colony in a wood or ground cavity.

First, it creates a round-shaped hole having a diameter of around 10 to 14 mm. Then it will start living inside it.

For reproduction purposes, it won’t stay in a single hole. The female carpenter bee will start to dig other holes on either side of the hole..

After creating 5 to 8 holes, it will start collecting pollen and fill the holes. By doing so she prepares those holes for brood nests.

First, the female carpenter will seal the holes with a pollen package before starting to lay eggs. The first egg is laid in the deepest hole that is already filled with pollen packages for the development of the brood. Then she continues laying eggs in other holes too.

Because of this reproductory system carpenter bees eat wood to build their own family.




Guide To Stop Carpenter Bees From Eating Wood

Carpenter bees might not be as dangerous as other wood-damaging insects. But if you don’t take any steps against carpenter bees, they can slowly damage the entire wood.

As I already told you carpenter bees will dig wood to create multiple new holes inside the wood to give birth to new broods. Each of the newly born carpenters will be raised within a few days. Then each of them will individually start creating a new hole for producing new generations.

As a result, day by day the number of carpenter bees inside the wood will increase and it will cause more damage to the wood.

I have run a personal experiment about catching carpenter bees. I am going to share it with you. But before that, you must be sure that carpenter bees are present inside the wood.




How Do You Know If You Have A Carpenter Bee In A Wood?

The following are the signs of having carpenter bees inside the wood:

  1. First of all, try to figure out the hole size it must be around 10 to 14 mm in diameter.
  2. If you found any wood shavings around the hole, this indicates the hole was just created by the insect.
  3. Don’t look inside the hole. If the bee is present there it can cause serious damage to your eyes. Try to listen carefully, any buzzing or vibrating noise is coming from the hole.
  4. You can also sometimes see carpenter bees walking over a wood.

If you heard any buzzing sound from the wood, or if you saw any bees walking over the wood. This will be an indication that carpenter bees are there.




How To Get Rid Of Carpenter Bees From Wood?

After identifying the carpenter bee our task is to get rid of them. I created a trap on my own to catch carpenter bees and caught a few carpenter bees from wooden materials in my house.

How To Stop Carpenter Bees From Eating Wood


To stop carpenter bees from eating wood and to get rid of them, you can try any of the following available ways that I have tried on my own.

  • You can put a bottle at the entrance of the hole. Make sure there is no way for air to pass inside the hole. After a few moments, the bees will try to run out from the hole for oxygen and will go inside the bottle. So, you can catch them. Make sure this thing is tried after sunset during the evening. Because during day time there is a chance that the female carpenter is not inside the hole. I have used this method and caught a few carpenter bees in 7 to 8 days.
  • Varnishing the wood with wood preservatives can prevent it from being damaged by woodpeckers, carpenter bees, and wood beetles. 
  • Paint any color over the woods. Because bees do not like deep colors like black, blue, etc.
  • Bees don’t like music and vibration. You can play loud music or jazz to deter carpenter bees from destroying the woods.
  • You can create or purchase a trap to catch carpenter bees before they cause any serious damage to your wooden materials.

There are also other ways to prevent carpenter bees from eating wood. But the above ways I have tried and that help me a little.

The process of catching carpenter bees using a bottle is time-consuming.

That’s why after a few days, I purchased a carpenter bee trap. That trap really helps a lot.


Carpenter Bee Trap
Carpenter Bee Trap



I purchased 6 carpenter bee traps and placed 2 of them around my honey bee hives, 2 of them outside my home entrance door, and 2 of them inside my house closed to wooden materials.

Using these traps I caught over 100 carpenter bees within 3 days.




Frequently Asked Questions


Are bees attracted to wood?

Only carpenter bees are highly attracted to wood. Though they like pre-created holes in wood, they can also create holes in wood on their own. Carpenter bees are highly attracted to untreated woods, and trees.

What keeps bees from eating wood?

Varnishing wooden material strongly prevents bees from eating wood. You can use wood preservatives or paint any color all over the wood to keep bees from eating wood.

What do wood bees hate?

Wood bees hate paint on wood, hard smells, loud noise and vibrates, etc. So, you can use these techniques to prevent carpenter bees from attacking the woods.




Final Thoughts And Helpful Resources

Bees will never eat wood. However, carpenter bees can damage the wood by creating their nests. But carpenter bees are also helpful for our environment. So, don’t kill them. Try natural ways to get rid of them.

The following articles would be helpful for you.


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